Rutherford, J. Posson, 89, a retired milk specialist with the Agriculture Department, died of pulmonary failure Thursday at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.

He joined Agriculture's field of service in 1915, and traveled by horse and buggy through Indiana and other midwestern states, gathering data on the costs of milk production.

Three years later, Mr. Posson transferred to the Washington offices. In the late 1920s, he left Agriculture to serve for seven years as manager of the Washington Dairy Council. He then returned to Agriculture, and was secretary of crop insurance when he reitred in 1953.

After retirement, Mr. Posson did accounting work for another 16 years for the National Bank of Washington before retiring a second time.

He was born in a sod house near Palisades, Neb., and at the age of 17 was teaching in a one-room schoolhouse. Later he attended the School of Agriculture at the University of Nebraska, and in 1915 received a degree in dairy husbandry from the university.

Mr. Possom, who lived most of his 60 years here in the Chevy Chase section of the city, was among the first members of the Argyle Country Club and was an active golfer until a year ago.He was a Mason and a member of the Farmhouse Fraternity and the Fossils.

He is survived by his wife, Marion E., of the home; two daughters, Joyce P. Winston, of Malvern, Pa., and Virginia F. Kemon, of Falls Church; a brother, M. B. Posson of Chadron, Neb.; two sisters, Zina P. Zeek, of Ukiah, Calif., and Evelyn P. Friederich, of Menlo Park, Calif., and seven grandchildren. CAPTION: Picture, RUTHERFORD J. POSSON, 1960 Photo