Processing Magazine

Dairy Farmers of America Protests $30 Million Class-Action Settlement

January 19, 2011

Dairy Farmers of America Inc. is joining what appears to be a plaintiffs’ revolt against their lawyers in a class-action settlement involving the dairy industry. Bizjournals reports, the Kansas City-based dairy cooperative joined other defendants and 24 dairy farmers protesting a $30 million settlement in federal court in Vermont. The settlement, which awaits approval from a federal judge, contemplates settling class-action claims against dairy marketers by individual farmers. The settlement with Dean Foods, the largest milk producer in the United States, with annual revenue north of $8 billion, claimed to pay 8,000 dairy farmers an average of $2,500 each to settle antitrust claims. Also as part of the settlement, Dean Foods could determine the market price for which it would buy 60 million pounds of milk a month for 30 months from non-DFA farmers. DFA claims that such an arrangement would cause price erosion for dairy farmers. DFA claims that the settlement, despite one-time cash payments to farmers, would harm them in the long term.