Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Dairy Farmers of America agrees to settle lawsuit and pay farmers in Northeast $50 million

While the Dairy Farmers of America cooperative is not admitting any wrongdoing, it has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by Vermont and New York farmers for $50 million. The farmers filed the suit in 2009, claiming they lost $341 million when DFA, Deans Foods and HP Hood "worked together to suppress prices paid to farmers and deny them access to milk processors," reports Agri-Pulse, a Washington newsletter. The complaint against Hood was dismissed in 2010, and Dean agreed in 2011 to pay $30 million.

Monica Massey, vice-president of DFA's Kansas City office, told Agri-Pulse: "While we believe the allegations against us are without merit and the activities of the DFA, Dairy Marketing Service and other affiliated milk marketing cooperatives in the Northeast benefited cooperative members and independent producers alike, the cost to continue to defend ourselves has become too great."

The number of farmers who will receive money is uncertain. DFA said in 2011 that as many as 13,000 farmers would split proceeds, but lawyers said at the time that the number was less than half that figure, Agri-Pulse writes. "The Boston milk market order website shows nearly 6,500 farmers in New England and New York state; the total grows to about 11,900 if Pennsylvania and Maryland are included." Agri-Pulse is subscription only, but a free trial is available by clicking here.

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