Judge Rejects Final Approval of Dean Foods Settlement

In July 2014, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) and its marketing branch Dairy Marketing Services (DMS) settled a five-year class-action lawsuit that alleged the organizations conspired with Dean Foods to manipulate unpasteurized milk prices in the Northeast, forcing farmers to join DFA or market through DMS. As part of the settlement, DFA and DMS agreed to pay $50 million to farmers affected by their manipulation.

However, a federal judge has denied final approval of the settlement, which would have worked out to an average of $4,000 paid to each of the more than 7,000 dairy farmers, in part due to the dismayed reactions of dairy farmers to the settlement. The judge said, “the financial compensation of approximately $4,000 per dairy farm was characterized as ‘functionally irrelevant,’ as it reflects the cost of one ‘tractor tire.’” (Burlington Free Press).

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