Dairy Farmers of America Settle Lawsuit Alleging Conspiracy to Drive Down Raw Milk Prices

On July 1, 2014, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) and its marketing branch Dairy Marketing Services (DMS) have settled a five-year lawsuit that alleged the organizations conspired with Dean Foods to manipulate raw milk prices in the northeast United States.

According to DairyReporter.com, “DFA was accused of ‘tying up access to milk bottling plants’ in the Northeast ‘through unlawful exclusive supply agreements.’ As a result, independent farmers in the region were forced to join DFA or market their raw milk through DMS.” This allowed DFA to drive down raw milk prices paid to dairy farmers, increasing profits for themselves and Dean Foods – between the two of them, they processed approximately 90% of bottled milk in the region at that time.

As part of the settlement, DFA and DMS are required to pay $50 million in cash compensation and a series of “meaningful non-monetary benefits” to the dairy farmers who brought this class action lawsuit, but are not required to admit any wrongdoing.

Although it is good news that the DFA and DMS are being held responsible for their actions, this lawsuit and its settlement without admission of wrongdoing is a sobering reminder of how Big Dairy is threatening independent dairy farmers across the country – regardless of whether they are trying to sell raw milk to bottling plants for pasteurization or direct to consumers. It’s also a reminder of the importance of supporting local farms by buying directly from them whenever possible.

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the nutrition education non-profit, The Weston A. Price Foundation. Donate to help fund research into the benefits of nutrient dense foods.  westonaprice.org/lab

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12 thoughts on “Dairy Farmers of America Settle Lawsuit Alleging Conspiracy to Drive Down Raw Milk Prices

  1. I’m still a DFA member, even though I’m currently not shipping any milk right now (trying to find other outlets). I hadn’t heard much additional information about this case. My field rep told me about some of this, but he had an axe to grind with them because of how he has been treated–no employer loyalty there. Most of what I read came directly from DFA, so of course they won’t admit any wrongdoing. I used to work for a large retail grocery chain, and that was standard operating procedure with them as well.

  2. If the dairy farms in the US become certified organic, I think that will create change. I would never buy raw milk from a farm that was not certified organic, frankly.

    • As I said to another comment you made, Certified Organic involves a lot of time, paperwork, and expense for the farmer to meet minimum standards that Walmart and others are eager to erode. You see online petitions regularly to address big businesses’ attempts to allow various additives or chemicals in “Certified Organic” foods. Many farmers do not bother becoming Certified Organic but use organic methods and produce a higher quality of food. Knowing your farmer, asking questions, visiting, seeing the operation is a better route whenever possible, than merely trusting the Certified Organic label.

      • If these farmers don’t want to certify, then they should at least go non-GMO. That’s a BIG first step. I’ve been involved with the organic community for many years. There’s simply no excuse not to go in that direction. If farmers are tired of Dean Foods and their ilk, they will not get away from it if they continue doing “business as usual.” The rest of us are fed up with what multi-national corporations like Monsanto, Bayer CropServices, Syngenta and other agribusiness are doing to our farmlands, waterways, foods, etc. Don’t be part of it. If you’re not organic, but can prove what you are doing is not poisonous and non-GMO, then you get customers who really believe in you. Make the transition now. Stop growing cash crops, next. Weston Price would never have supported any kind of toxic agribusinesses.

  3. Mideast DFA members didn’t have a lawsuit such as this. My field rep had nothing good to say about what was going on pertaining to this lawsuit. I don’t know if I’d exactly call DFA “Big Dairy”, because, after all, it is a co-op, and the members are the ones paying the salaries of those who do the marketing. Try to find a DFA member sometime, and see if they will show you all of the deductions that are taken out of each milk check to verify this.

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