Darigold and Wilcox in the Pacific Northwest, and Dallas-based Schepps Dairy are among the dairies that are now saying "no" to rBST.

Schepps, a Dean Foods Company, announced last month that it would begin selling milk produced without the use of the synthetic growth hormone. Marketing dir. Susan Meadows told a Dallas newspaper that consumer demand led to the action.

Darigold, which is owned by the Northwest Dairy Association, recently joined several other dairy companies in the Northwest that have banned milk from treated cows.

"I think it's going to become a competitive disadvantage if you are not rBST-free," said Randy Eronimous, dir. of marketing for Darigold, in speaking with theNew York Times.

Vermont's Agriculture Secretary, Steve Kerr, is urging farmers to stop using rBST, noting that the two largest milk producers in New England will no longer accept milk from cows given the hormone.

"If the market is moving that way, we don't want to miss that move," Kerr said.

Kerr estimated that about 20% of Vermont's 141,000 dairy cows are treated with rBST.

News reports last month indicated that most processors are offering to pay a premium when they stop accepting milk made with rBST, and retailers in New England are charging around 50 cents a gallon more for naturally produced milk.