Big Dairy has consistently shown its lack of regard for animal welfare and the environment. Now, according to a new class action lawsuit filed last week, it’s milking its own consumers by illegally jacking up prices – to the tune of $9.5 billion in additional profit.
On Sept. 26, leading class action law firm Hagens Berman filed a lawsuit on behalf of consumers accusing several dairy industry giants – including the National Milk Producers Federation, Dairy Farmers of America and Land O’Lakes – of a multi-billion dollar price-fixing scheme carried out through the collectively formed trade group, Cooperatives Working Together (CWT).
As outlined in the complaint, between 2003 and 2010, CWT’s so-called “dairy herd retirement” program paid primarily small dairy farmers to send entire herds to slaughter—over 500,000 young cows in all—in a concerted effort to reduce the supply of milk thereby inflating the price nationwide. The case further alleges that by buying out many of these small farmers, the program unfairly increased profits for agribusiness giants.
Compassion Over Killing uncovered this possibly illegal price-fixing scheme that was killing cows, cheating consumers, and lining the pockets of agribusiness giants and turned its research over to Hagens Berman.
In a brief statement responding to the lawsuit, CWT says its “self-help initiative” was operated within legal boundaries, though it does not deny that this was engaged in a price-fixing scheme. Indeed, CWT’s own economic analysis, posted on its website, not only boasts about the program’s effects on the industry but confirms that milk prices did in fact increase as a result of its efforts. As the lawsuit further points out, the tactics used in this alleged price-fixing scheme are likely to impact the price of milk for years to come.
Despite this self-touted success, CWT ended its euphemistically dubbed “dairy herd retirement” program in 2010—shortly after it was announced that dairy and egg producer Land O’Lakes agreed to pay $25 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed against the United Egg Producers and its members. That case alleged that producers inflated the price of eggs through a program encouraging flock reduction that was disguised as an animal welfare initiative. Land O’Lakes is also a defendant in this new price-fixing lawsuit.
Hagens Berman is interested in speaking to consumers who purchased milk or milk products from 2004 to the present. Consumers can contact the firm by calling 206-623-7292 or by emailing CWT@hbsslaw.com. Visit HBSSLaw.com/CWT for more details.
In the meantime, visit Compassion Over Killing’s website, COK.net, for more details plus updates on the case and to discover simple yet effective ways you can take a stand against the dairy industry’s unethical practices every time you sit down, simply by choosing dairy-free foods.