S.R.J.F., Inc. v. Dairy Farmers of America, INC., (D. Vt.) is a class action on behalf of Northeast U.S. dairy farmers who received artificially suppressed prices for raw milk sold in the Northeast (New England, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, and the majority of Pennsylvania except for its westernmost portion).
The claim alleges that DFA acquired a monopsony power of Northeast dairy farms and suppressed the price of raw milk sold in the Northeast through a variety of anticompetitive actions. DFA is alleged to have exercised that monopsony power from at least May 2016 to drive down raw milk prices to benefit its dairy processing facilities and partners, key purchasers of dairy farmers’ raw milk
At the cooperative level, DFA’s conduct to foreclose competition and drive down raw milk prices included: coercing independent dairy farmers and dairy co-operatives placed under financial distress by DFA’s conduct to join DFA; attempts to use access to milk hauling as a lever to coerce independents and non-DFA co-operatives to join DFA; as well as attempts to manipulate the FMMO pooling rules in its favor, and failing that, dissolving its non-member marketing service DMS, leaving independent dairy farms without alternative access to market unless they joined DFA.
At the processing level, DFA’s anticompetitive conduct was directed at removing alternative outlets for independent dairy farmers to market their raw Grade A milk and increasing DFA’s ability to benefit from low raw Grade A milk prices. DFA accomplished this by actually removing alternative outlets through mergers and acquisitions of raw milk processors, as well as by functionally removing alternative outlets by signing long-term exclusive supply agreements with other raw milk processors.
The impact of the persistent low prices experienced by Northeast dairy farmers since May 2016 has been devastating, causing widespread dairy closures and bankruptcies.
The suit was filed in July 2022, and is ongoing. To view the compliant click here.
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The claim is brought on behalf of dairy farmers that produced and sold raw milk in the Northeast from May 10, 2016 onwards. If you are (or were) a dairy farmer in this region and were impacted by low raw milk prices, you are encouraged to reach out to learn more about your legal rights at no cost. Get in touch by filling out the form below.