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