In September, Big Dairy settled a lawsuit for over $US50 million ($66 million), which claimed it conspired to kill off 500,000 cows in an effort to gouge milk prices. Now, milk lovers in 15 US states can potentially reap the rewards of this lawsuit by visiting the website, boughtmilk.com.
The class action suit alleged that in 2003, the US National Milk Producers Federation and its subsidiary, Cooperatives Working Together, began paying “above-market prices for dairy cows owned by member farmers, and sent them to be slaughtered before they would have otherwise”. According to the complaint, this was in order to “reduce the supply of milk, eliminate competition and significantly reduce the number of dairy farmers competing in the market in order to increase the price of raw farm milk”.
Steve Berman, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, told USA Today that the program to slaughter cows was a “classic price-fixing scheme”.
The US dairy industry has found itself embroiled in a number antitrust lawsuits in the past decade. In June, the Dairy Farmers of America, Dairy Marketing Services and Dean Foods settled a class action suit for $US50 million ($66 million) after dairy farmers claimed the organisations colluded to decrease raw milk prices in the northeast. In 2013, the Dairy Farmers of America and others paid $US158.6 million ($209 million) after they were accused of “violating antitrust laws by conspiring to control the supply chain and prices for milk in the Southeast”. In 2010, Dean Foods paid northeast dairy farmers $US30 million ($39 million) as a settlement for yet another antitrust lawsuit.
Even though Big Dairy still denies the latest allegations, they’re still paying up big time. Anyone who bought dairy products from 2003 to the present and lives in any of the following US states is eligible for a still undetermined amount that depends on how many folks claim rebates: Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia or Wisconsin.
As New York-based milk lover — I love milk — I’m not eligible to receive any of the settlement. But many people living in America can, simply by clicking here and submitting a claim before 31 January 2017.