If you’ve bought cream, half and half, yogurt, cottage cheese, or sour cream since 2003, you can get some money from the dairy industry. On August 25, Land O’ Lakes, the National Milk Producers Federation, Dairy Farmers of America, and Agri-Mark settled a five-year-old federal class action lawsuit (Matthew Edwards v. National Milk Producers Federation, Case No. 11-cv-04766) over killing dairy cows to inflate prices:
The dairy producers were accused of conspiring to prematurely slaughter more than 500,000 cows between 2003 and 2010 to limit the production of raw milk and drive up prices for yogurt, sour cream and other dairy products.
…The class includes all consumers who from 2003 to present purchased cream, half & half, yogurt, cottage cheese or sour cream in California, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.
…In their motion for settlement approval, the plaintiffs estimate 73 million class members are eligible to receive a portion of the $52 million fund [Nicholas Iovino, “Dairy Producers Pay $52 Million for Price-Fixing,” Courthouse News Service, 2016.09.07].
$52 million for 73 million customers—that’s about 71 cents for each of us. You can apply for your six bits online at www.boughtmilk.com.
The dairy herd retirement program probably benefited Big Corporate Ag more than individual farmers, who often took the herd kill-off as an easy exit from desperate financial straits. The dairy herd retirement program didn’t lead to a total herd reduction of 500,000; nationwide, from 2005 through 2010, the national dairy herd still increased, despite a big recession-era drop:
The dairy herd retirement program may have functioned more like a dairy retirement program: through the period covered by the class action suit, South Dakota’s dairy farms decreased from 585 to 321. Dairy concentration continues: by 2015, South Dakota’s dairy count was down to 221.