Even though thousands of Northeast dairy farmers have started getting payments because of a class-action settlement with Dairy Farmers of America, a small group of farmers is intent on going to trial against the nation’s largest dairy cooperative.
The Associated Press reported this week that nearly 9,000 dairy farmers in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic in Federal Milk Marketing Order 1 started getting checks on average of $4,000 as part of a 2016 $50 million settlement in the Northeast DFA case.
The lawsuit, which dates back to 2009, charged DFA, its marketing arm Dairy Marketing Services and Dallas-based Dean Foods with working together to monopolize the market for raw milk in the Northeast.
Dean Foods agreed to a separate $30 million settlement in 2011.
The settlement gave farmers an option to “opt out,” and a group of 115 dairy farmers, collectively known as Famers United, have continued to pursue a case against DFA.
A mediation session that included attorneys for Farmers United and DFA was held July 10, according to the court docket for the U.S. District Court of Vermont, where the case is being heard. No agreement on a settlement was reached during the mediation. This is the last-known action in the case.
The 2016 settlement will fund an independent advisory council to review the financial records of DFA and DMS, according to AP. It will also fund a farmer ombudsman for five years whose job will be to investigate any complaints against DFA and create guidelines for farmers to terminate their contracts with DFA or DMS without penalty, according to the AP.