September 9, 2016 by Chris
Dairy Producers Settle Price-Fixing Suit
Law firm Hagens Berman recently announced that $52 million dollar settlement has been reached in a long-standing price-fixing antitrust case filed back in 2011 against major industry players including Land O’Lakes, Agri-Mark Inc., and the National Milk Producers Federation.
According to a recent Bloomberg article covering the suit and subsequent settlement:
Although American demand for dairy has risen steadily for almost 40 years, some farmers tried to limit the supply of milk by killing off their own cows.
No, you read that correctly. This mysterious state of affairs was revealed in a nationwide class-action lawsuit against dairy cooperatives, groups of farmers who pool their supplies but, as a whole, serve as middlemen between the farmers and dairy processors. In this case, lawyers from one of the premier U.S. plaintiffs’ firms alleged on behalf of American consumers that the cooperatives paid farmers to prematurely turn hundreds of thousands of cows into burgers in a sprawling scheme to prop up dairy prices.
The defendants settled this week for $52 million, a drop in the bucket for such a big industry. But the antitrust case pulls the curtain back on a highly complex sector of the U.S. agricultural economy—one where some of the laws of macroeconomics don’t always seem to apply.
Certain consumers in 15 states and the District of Columbia will be eligible to recover part of that settlement. Visit www.boughtmilk.com to see if you’re one of them. The claim period closes soon.