Happy New Year – Southeast #Local!

Oh, my, we southerners are a bit intense about our New Year’s Day traditional meal! And since I’m getting more and more driven to identify and support ‘local’ growers, or at least farmers I know, I wanted my New Year’s tradition to include as much ‘local’ as possible.

From Southern Living to Garden and Gun to newspaper columnists to bloggers, paper pages and digital pages are filled with recipes for traditional New Year dishes like Hoppin’ John with rice, cornbread, black-eyed peas straight-up and black-eyed peas in salads and dips, and greens – always the greens (with vinegar, please!)

Are other parts of the country as crazy about a New Year’s Day tradition such as this?  (Tell me, please! What New Year traditions do you have?)

Anyhow, while I eat most foods produced in the US knowing we have the safest food supply in the world, of late I am getting more and more curious about where the farms are from which that food comes.  I often ask myself “Am I supporting a neighbor?” when I make a purchase.

I guess you could call me a proud, ‘consciously local’ consumer!

Most farmers in agriculture sell products on the ‘commodity’ market, and by so doing, it is very easy for the farmers’ faces to get lost, and a consumer has no idea which farms in which areas of the country they are supporting.

Because my family has farmed for at least three generations, and because I work on a daily basis with farmers who produce all sorts of products (milk, crops, beef, pork, chicken, lamb, farmers market produce & flowers, etc.), I am increasingly drawn to the question “How are we all going to be able to continue farming for another generation?”  “Can we financially be able to do that?”

While there are many factors that play into answering those questions, one of the main factors that enable a farm to stay in business is that sales of the products they are able to grow must have a viable market.  That ‘market’ must be of a volume large enough to sell a significant quantity of product to justify the expense of growing a crop.

I also am a great believer in viable farm neighborhoods local to me, or in some cases, which support a group of like-minded farmers I know. Those farms are sometimes 50 miles, most often 250-300 miles, and sometimes 500 miles or more from my East Tennessee stomping grounds.

So, I decided to play a ‘local’ game with my New Year’s Day meal – or as much as I could on a less-than-24 hour thought.   I shopped at 5 different food retailers in my small East Tennessee town, which included 2 mid-size grocery chains, 2 small grocery chains, and 1 dollar store. With a few more days thought (and more cooking time), I probably could have added a few more products, but time just ran out.

Here’s what I came up with (a combination of cooked from scratch and mixes of things out of a very convenient can), plus using milk and cornmeal that were already on hand :

3441_a_local_new_years_supper_f Breaking it down:

From Tennessee:  Buttermilk from Mayfield Dairy Farm, which buys milk from most East Tennessee dairy farms (likely 75% or more of the milk produced in East TN).  Since our farm grows corn which goes to a feed mill which in turn sells feed to those herds, this brand (and private labels which come from plants 47-131 and 13-230, as well as Weigel’s) is often in my fridge.  The cornmeal mix for the cornbread had a White Lily brand, but no East Tn wheat or corn would have been in that bag. [It would have approximately 20 years ago, before they closed their Knoxville mill.]

My pork (a smoked shoulder butt) was smoked by some ‘local’ friends who live in the same town I do, and purchased from a local food ‘bulk-sales’ retailer, but I have no idea where the hog houses are in which that pork (delicious) was finished!

From Louisiana: I tried a Brown Long Grain rice from Louisiana (approximately 700 miles or an 11 hour drive away).  Rice is not grown in Tennessee, and likely can’t very easily, so this was as close as I could get.  It was also my first time -ever – cooking rice the old-fashioned, long-time way on top of a stove!  (That also fit a  2017 resolution – new dishes, and new methods to cook.).  I was really pleased when I went to the Supreme Rice website to meet the growers – I feel like we could have the same language about John Deeres and such!  But that LA accent? Well, that would take an in person visit to see if we could understand the spoken word!

From South Carolina: My Black-eyed Peas and Greens (Margaret Holmes brand) were of the conveniently canned variety.  Following a label reference to McCall Farms, I also met the southeast farmers who likely grew these New Year’s staples.  These growers live about 350 miles and 5 and half hours from my table, so I could drop by on my next trip to the SC coast!  (‘On the way” is another form of local, isn’t it?!?)

I may not wait for a holiday or special occasion to play my next ‘how local can I make it?” game.  Would you consider joining me, and making a game of it?

Happy “Local Eating” New Year!

Merry, Dairy Christmas for TN & Southeast Cows! These Brands support Local Dairies in the state and region!

MERRY, DAIRY CHRISTMAS!   HAPPY HANUKKAH!

“I live in Tennessee.  I would like to buy milk and holiday eggnogs from Local Dairy Farms which are located close to me.  How do I know that I know I’m doing that?”

Thanks to all of you who like to support your ‘local’ farmers, wherever you may live in the United States, Canada or the world!  I believe it is important to support your local farm neighbors with purchases of their farm products, that’s a way to make sure you preserve a farming economy in any region of the country!

Since I live in Tennessee, and people know me as an enthusiastic dairy  and milk agvocate, I often get asked ‘how do I know if I’m supporting local dairies?” Since it’s Christmas, I’ve focused on those delicious holiday beverages – eggnog and boiled custard  – as a focal point for ‘supporting local.’  According to the Wall Street Journal, EggNog is pretty darn popular this holiday season!

The pictures found in this blog post are a quick visual guide to help you with grocery and retail purchases of eggnog and boiled custard, and the brands that do the most to support dairy farms and cows that live mostly in Tennessee, with some support of cows and farms in the neighboring states of GA, KY, and NC.  I’ve been giving some as hostess gifts!

What is local to you is dependent on where you live, so look for the photo guides for East Tennessee and for a different one for the Nashville Metro Area, and Middle and West Tennessee. They are as follows:

If you live or shop in EAST TENNESSEE (from Chattanooga to Johnson City, generally east of the Cumberland Plateau) these brands do the most to support local farms:

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If you live or shop in the NASHVILLE METRO area or WEST TENNESSEE (from the Cumberland Plateau through Middle Tennessee to the Mississippi River) these are the brands which do the most to support local farms:

2874_eggnogs_local_milk_nashville_agrivoice_f

In Tennessee, we are also fortunate to have two single-farm milk processors, also known as ‘farmstead processors,’ who make delicious eggnogs.  These are Cruze Farm, in the Knoxville / East Tennessee metro area, (with a limited distribution to Asheville and Nashville to a limited number of stores), and Hatcher Family Dairy, who serves the Nashville Metro market from their farm in Cottage Grove.

8556cruzefarmeggsquisiteeggnogf  2190_hatcher_eggnog_f

These photos should be considered as generally correct, but may be affected by milk market needs on any given day!  Have a Merry Dairy Christmas, made even better with LOCAL Egg Nog!

What are the general factors used in the development of these photo ‘Guides to Local Milk’?

  1. LOCAL:  A travel distance of approximately 250 miles from farm to milk plant, and then to retailers within that same distance from the milk plant is how “LOCAL” is defined for the purposes of this post.
  2. FARMS: A milk brand / carton has to contain all – or a very high percentage –  of milk that is produced on farms in Tennessee, or by farms in the neighboring states of GA, KY, AL, or NC.  This is a primary criteria in knowing if your food purchase dollars go to support farms in close proximity to where you live.  Widely available brands source milk from a number of farms, all of whom have to meet strict quality standards.  These ‘widely available’ brands are extremely important because they support many local farms, and not just one. And, because of the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance, a 398- page FDA regulation, consumers can be assured that all dairy farms from all states must adhere to strict national standards,and therefore the US Milk supply is the safest in the world!
  3. MILK PLANTS:  Every carton of milk has a plant number somewhere on that carton. With a knowledge of plant numbers (found on every carton of milk sold at retail, then dairy industry associates have a pretty good idea of the farms whose milk is delivered to those plants. Just because a milk or dairy plant is located in the state of Tennessee, does not mean that the milk it purchases comes from Tennessee farms.
  4. BRANDS – commonly available at retail:  The brands in these graphics are those commonly found at major food retailers or chains, and to a lesser degree, to smaller specialty food stores or restaurants in regions of the state.  Grocery stores, ‘big box’ stores,  convenience stores, dollar stores, and thrift stores have all been considered.
  5. METRO Centers / REGIONAL AREAS are the starting point in backtracking to where the farms are.  The chain is this – Metro Center (a number of retail stores), to milk plant, and then back to the farms.
  6. JOBS generated at each level of the chain from farm to consumer:
    1. Farms, which in turn generate jobs on the farm and in agribusiness.  Because dairy cows have the need for lots of different types of feed, local dairies also support local grain and hay farms as well.
    2. Transport jobs (a)- milk trucking companies which deliver milk to milk plants
    3. Milk plant – numbers of jobs at a milk processing center
    4. Transport jobs (2) – delivery trucks which deliver processed dairy products to stores and restaurants
    5. Food retailer jobs – any number of dairy case and restaurant jobs are involved in the final farm-to-consumer connection.2190_drink_tennessee_local

 

The Dougherty Dispersal: The Cows Come First in a Tornado’s Aftermath

 

000_blan_sales_flyer_final_9dec_agcentral

UPDATE – Dec. 13th:  Catalog (DHIA pages) now postedlink here . . 

At 1:30 am on Nov. 30, an EF-2 Tornado wreaked horrific damage to Polk and McMinn Counties, in Tennessee’s most southeast corner.

In Polk County, TN, a couple lost their lives and an estimated 50 structures or houses were either totally destroyed or severely damaged.

Among the areas receiving the worst property damage was a roadway that’s long been known as one of Tennessee’s most beautiful farming corridors, TN Hwy 307.  At one end, the roadway is anchored by the Mayfield Dairy Farms Dairy Processing plant in the town of Athens, TN, and then runs for several miles up to Hwy. 68 in Monroe County.  In one very nice modular home subdivision on that highway, 30 structures were either totally destroyed or severely damaged.

Blan & Kathy Dougherty, long respected as being one of the best teams in Tennessee as both a dairy farming couple and agricultural and community leaders, owned the dairy operation which received by far the worst structural damage. In just a matter of a couple of minutes or less, their milking parlor was destroyed,  barns which sheltered their excellently-cared for cows were decimated, and the feedways where the cows ate were obliterated.

An article in the Athens, TN newspaper, the Daily Post-Athenian, relays more details.

Approximately 11 hours or less after the storm, and thanks to a great crew of family members, friends from area farms and agribusiness, and the generosity of a fellow farmer, 130 milking cows were relocated to a neighboring dairy farm, just over the GA state line, and only 45 miles away from the home farm.

Due to the devastating damage to their milk barn and animal housing facilities in that tornado, and the time it will take to repair them, Blan and Kathy concluded that it’s in the best interest of the cows to help them find new homes via an auction. This is one of Tennessee’s best herds. The milking herd and bred heifer dispersal will take place on Friday, December 16, at Noon, at the Athens Stockyard in Athens, TN.

The cows are receiving great care and extra attention at this temporary home, from caretakers who believe in animal welfare and have years of experience in taking care of high-producing dairy cows, and have really done exceptionally well. The Doughertys will keep some of their heifers while they make decisions about their future. This is an extremely difficult decision for any farmer to make, and we ask for folks to keep them in their thoughts and prayers during the transition. More information pertaining to the sale and individual cows will be posted before the sale.

000_blan_sales_flyer_final_9dec_agcentral

Final Payments to Farmer / Class Members in Southeast Milk Litigation Authorized by the Court

“The Checks Will Soon Be in the Mail,” may be a better headline.

An historic and record-setting food industry  class action that began in July of 2007 is now approaching completion nine and one-half years later. Final Settlement payments to farmer/class members in the Southeast Milk Litigation have been authorized by Judge Ronnie Greer, US District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee, Greeneville Division. Judge Greer issued his Orders on December 6, 2016.

A total Settlement Fund of over $280 Million was reached in three different settlements: one with Dean Foods, the second with Southern Marketing Agency and related entities, and the third with Dairy Farmers of America and Related Entities.  Payments began in January of 2013, and completed via annual payments.

In short, the final payments to farmer/class members in the Southeast Milk Litigation will shortly be in mailboxes, and should be received before or shortly after Christmas, 2016.

Farmers / Class members should be watching their mailboxes. Since previous payments have come in rather ordinary envelopes, recipients are advised to pay detailed attention to each envelope in their mailboxes, being careful to not lose Settlement payments with heavy mail volume common at this time of year. These are not electronic payments.

The class action began in July of 2007, when two original complaints were filed in US District Court, Middle District of Tennessee.  One complaint was filed on behalf of co-op member farmers, and one on behalf of independent farmers (those not belonging to a co-op).  The two complaints were consolidated in July of 2008 and redirected to the Eastern District of Tennessee, Greeneville Division, presided over by The Honorable Judge Ronnie Greer.

Farmer/Plaintiffs were represented by a team of antitrust attorneys from Baker-Hostetler, Washington, DC.  Led by Robert Abrams, the team included Greg Commins, and Danyll Foix, and a host of others during the course of the litigation.  Local plaintiff counsels in the District court included Thomas Jessee of Johnson City, and Steve Terry and Gary Brewer, Brewer & Terry of Morristown, TN.  When the complaints were filed, the same attorneys were with Howrey LLP, a law firm which dissolved during the course of the litigation.

The amended complaint is a great summary and timeline of the activities which eventually led to the Dean Foods Settlement in January of 2012, (first payments took place in January of 2013) and the DFA/Related Entities Settlement in January of 2013.  It should be noted that all defendants have fulfilled the terms of their settlement agreements, and that many (but not all) of the individuals named in the actions are no longer active in the named organizations.

During the course of the litigation, nearly 2 Million pages of legal documents were generated, many of which can be found at the litigation website.

With a 4-page Order of December 6, 2016, Judge Ronnie Greer, presiding Judge, authorized the fifth and final distribution of Dean Settlement funds.  In a separate but parallel action, he authorized the distribution of the Residual DFA Funds in a 3-page Order.  With these Orders entered on the Court’s record, Rust Consulting, Claims Administrator, will quickly begin writing and mailing checks to over 6,000 class members.

The ORDERS THEMSELVES FOLLOW:

First, The Order Authorizing Distribution of the Final Dean Foods Settlement Payment:

Order Fifth Dean Distribution.pdf

PAGE 2 _ ORDER, DEAN FOODS SETTLEMENT DISTRIBUTION

Order Fifth Dean Distribution.pdf

PAGE 3 -ORDER, DEAN FOODS SETTLEMENT DISTRIBUTION

Order Fifth Dean Distribution.pdf

PAGE 4 -ORDER, DEAN FOODS SETTLEMENT DISTRIBUTION

(The Judge’s signature, and then keep scrolling down for the DFA Payment Order.)

Order Fifth Dean Distribution.pdf

Second: ORDER Authorizing Distribution of the RESIDUAL DFA SETTLEMENT Funds:

Order DFA Residual Distribution.pdf

PAGE 2: ORDER Authorizing Distribution of the Residual DFA SETTLEMENT Funds

Order DFA Residual Distribution.pdf

Page 3: ORDER Authorizing Distribution of the RESIDUAL DFA SETTLEMENT Funds:

Order DFA Residual Distribution.pdf

From having done extensive review of documents related to this class-action case, along with attending most of the courtroom hearings and then reporting on various matters related to this litigation,  it is my fervent hope that all farmers make every effort to more fully understand the BIG BUSINESS of what happens to affect their milk checks.

If one wants to begin, they will read the 7-pages of legal documents above, then read the 60-page amended complaint , and  then re-read them, and re-read them, and then re-read them again.  Although these events described in these documents are now a part of dairy industry history, they will provide a foundation for understanding milk marketing. If a person does begin to read them, they need to remember that today’s markets will have changed, due to time, and the evolution of milk markets themselves.

Happy Reading!  Be Watching for those checks!

Sun Photo by Phil Gentry
Federal Court House

 

 

 

Faith. Family. Milk. Passion. Legacy. The Randy Davis Memorial Milk Fund Drive

“I’m Randy Davis. I’m a Dairy Farmer. I would like to talk to you about the world’s most nutritious product – MILK!  And I want to tell you how God has blessed me so I am able to work as a farmer in the dairy industry!”

Man of Deep Faith. Devoted Family Man. Dairy Farmer. Passionate Milk Advocate.

That, and much, much more. And the quote? How many times has he been heard opening speeches to civic clubs or business meetings with those words?  Whenever he spoke, this group of folks, wife Rita, daughter Alli and husband Tyler Kamper (left), and daughter Samantha, husband Chad Craun, and their children Wilson and Deacon were ever on his mind.

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How do you best honor the memory of one who lived his passion until the very end?  With a means to share his legacy with local food banks in the purchase of fresh milk for those who need it the most – that’s how!

Randy, a friend and colleague to many in the southeast and across the country, had valiantly fought prostate cancer since 2009, and finally succumbed to the disease that has claimed so many on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016. He didn’t talk a great deal about it, but yet those who knew him best could watch his struggle as the disease advanced.  Many believe his work on the farm and work for the dairy industry was far more therapeutic to him than any drug or treatment, and his drive to farm kept him going until the end. You can begin to get acquainted with him through his obituary.

However, his story covers a scope far greater than can be covered in that obituary or through a single blog post, so for now, we’re going to share news of the Randy Davis Memorial Milk Drive Fund, and why it was so important to him.

In recent years, Randy had helped organize and promote a series of local, onsite milk drives in his home area of East Tennessee, centered in the Knoxville metro area. These events were promoted in conjunction with several area grocery stores.  A Knoxville radio station, Q100.3, has been great to work with in promoting these drives.  A basketball player, and then coach,  Randy believed in the value of Teamwork, and how each member of a team played a vital role. And these were great teams that came together in a common purpose, with Randy reviving his basketball coaching skills to bring home a win for MILK and FOOD BANKS! (Sometimes those team members included Farmer Bright, and former UT Football players like Erick Ainge and Andy Kelly!)

6623_milk_drive_ingles_may16_f

At these events, a refrigerated truck from Second Harvest East Tennessee would be seen as shoppers walked into grocery stores, and would encourage them to ask questions about “What’s going on?”  Dairy farmers and event promoters, including folks from Molly the Milk Leader and SUDIA would then answer questions about milk, farming, helping buy milk for food banks. They would then encourage people to buy fresh milk to bring to the truck as they shopped.  Many very gladly did, some teaching their children the act of giving in the process.

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Randy delighted in these days, especially when he could see children and families returning a second year to participate in buying milk  – buying even more than the first year. One such occurrence happened in the spring of 2016.

A family had participated in a milk drive in the spring of 2015, and remembered how their boys enjoyed the thought they were helping others.  When they heard announcements of the 2016 Milk Drives on a radio partner,  Q100Country from Knoxville, they quickly decided they would participate a 2nd time.

They gladly made their first trip in to the store’s dairy case, buying eight gallons, since that was their original mission.  But as they approached the Second Harvest truck,  one of the boys decided that wasn’t enough, and the mission grew. The family went back in for a second time on the same shopping visit because they felt they needed to buy even more- another 7 gallons!  One young man reasoned “I think we need to get the same number of gallons as my baseball number, Dad!”  (The jersey number was 15, so 15 total gallons of milk it was!)] Tears came to the eyes of everyone around when the cart came to the truck!

6576_boys_15and8_f

The Randy Davis Memorial Milk Drive Fund is designed to carry on that legacy:  To encourage the act of giving, and to do it in a very direct way by going to local stores, buying milk brands which support local farmers, and by then supplying food banks which will distribute that milk to the local families who need the most nutritional help.

To honor Randy, you can contribute to the fund in the following way:

You may send cash, check, or even a gift card to the following:

Randy Davis Memorial Milk Drive Fund

c/o First Bank & Trust Co.

Attn: Roy Settle, Fund Administrator

1185 North State of Franklin Road

Johnson City, TN  37604

At the current time, we are trying to figure out how to accomplish online payments.  We’ll keep you posted on that.  It is expected to keep the fund open through next July 1st, which will take the fund giving through June Dairy Month.  A committee of Randy’s friends and some family members will be making decisions on how the funds will be distributed, and when, where, and how the milk will be purchased and delivered to an area food bank, or banks. The plan at the current time is to spend the funds in an onsite event (one or more) of some sort, yet to be determined.

Would you please consider joining in to make Randy’s smile from Heaven brighten the day of some needy families during the next months?  THANKS for doing that!

Randy, you taught us, you inspired us.  We’ll see that your legacy carries on!

3039_milk_drive_a_ingles_kids_2015_f

$52 Million Settlement Brings On Bigger Picture Concerns

NMPF and Related Entities settle CWT Class Action Lawsuit for $52 Million

No Guilt Admitted by Settlement

Name of Case: Edwards et al v. National Milk Producers Federation, et. al

Website containing several very pertinent court documents: www. boughtmilk. com

 (Note:  It is very troublesome to see that this case challenges the previous immunities, abilities, and parameters of the Clayton Act, Capper-Volsted, and the Sherman Act, important to the function of agricultural co-ops.  However, there will be many statements found in court transcripts, depositions, and other events in this suit which may shed light on the reasons for the Settlement.)

 BRIEF SUMMARY:

 The SETTLEMENT, DEFENDANTS, ATTORNEY FEES, and EXPENSES:

  • A Settlement Amount of $52 Million Dollars has been announced, in a 20-page  agreement dated August 11, 2016.
  • $26 Million is to be placed in an Escrow Account 30 days after preliminary approval [by the Court] of the Settlement Agreement.  The balance of $26 Million is to be deposited in same Escrow Account within 90 days after the Preliminary Approval is entered.
  • Documents indicate Settlement accounts will be funded by National Milk Producers, although member Co-ops Dairy Farmers of America (noted as successor to Dairylea by merger), Land O’Lakes, and AgriMark) are named in the court documents.
  • Attorneys Fees & Expenses to be deducted:  It is expected that approximately $17,333.333 million (1/3 of the Settlement Amount, along with a maximum of $2.4 million in expenses, shall be paid to plaintiffs’ counsel.  A maximum of $2 million is allowed for administration expenses.  Therefore, there is a total of $21.7 million to be deducted from the Settlement Amount of $52 Million, leaving approximately $30.3 million for distribution among class members.

Where will the Money to Fund the Settlement Money Come From?

The Settlement Agreement, as noted above, states that NMPF will fund the Settlement Accounts.  A valid question is “How will that $52 Million be replaced in the NMPF accounts?”  It is possible there could be an insurance policy that may cover this.  It is possible that NMPF may ask the defendant member co-ops for money to help fund the costs, but that would be between NMPF and the Boards of Directors of the Defendant Co-ops.  Producers should ask questions in their individual organizations if they are concerned about this matter

It is best to read the entire Settlement Agreement, along with other official court documents, which can provide thorough understanding.

Who are the class members eligible to file for damages?

CONSUMERS are Claimants:  Those consumers eligible for an estimated $30 damages/each are people who live in 15 states scattered over the country, plus the District of Columbia.   The final dollar amount will be determined by number of those who file claims Claims by Jan. 31, 2017.  The ‘Notice of Settlement’,  3 pages long, is the official court document which is the best reference, and is written per standards dictated by Federal Court Rules.  This map, which illustrates the states eligible to receive settlement monies, was downloaded from the boughtmilk.com website, which contains links to several pertinent court documents.

00_nmpf_settlement_states_f

BACKGROUND: 

The Lawsuit was filed in 2014 challenging CWT activity which began in 2003.  The suit was originally filed by several plaintiffs.  At least some or all of the individuals are associated with a group called Compassion over Killing.  Their Mission statement is:  “Working to end animal abuse since 1995, Compassion Over Killing exposes cruelty to farmed animals and promotes vegetarian eating as a way to build a kinder world.”  An article gives their perspective at the time of the filing.

And for those who want to know the many items that have been vetted, reviewed, and discussed in the course of the litigation, go back to the beginning, and read the “Complaint” (legal term), which set in motion the course of action.  This 52-pg. document is written by the plaintiffs, and was filed with the court in December of 2014.

PRINCIPLES and LOCATIONS: 

  •  Plaintiffs law firm, Hagens, Berman, Sobol, Shapiro LLP is based in Seattle, Washington and Berkely, California.
  • The case has been heard in United States District Court, Northern District of California, Oakland Division. The Honorable Jeffrey S. White is the District Judge who has presided over the litigation. As such, he signed off on the Class Certification Order.
  • Court Documents name the defendants who include National Milk Producers Federation and member co-ops DFA, Land O’ Lakes, and AgriMark. Their legal teams are based in several states in the Eastern United States.

Should the Defendants have settled?

 This is a question which only those intimately involved – and who are well versed in both class action law and federal court case law –  are qualified to answer.  There would have been a far greater financial risk had the case gone on to trial, along with significant additional legal expenses. Millions of dollars, and the risks of being liable for even hundreds of millions of dollars, quickly add up in all class action suits.

RECISSION? APPEAL?  Can the Settlement be Invalidated?

In the Settlement Agreement, there are a few clauses which refer to “Recission,” which describe what will happen  if the Settlement Agreement is appealed, or some other events which could void the agreeement.  It is far too early to predict if such actions will take place, but due to the fact they are mentioned in this agreement,  they can always occur.  The lengthy settlement process in the Northeast Milk Litigation is an example of ‘anything can happen’ in a court of law.

 BIG PICTURE QUESTIONS are raised about long-term CO-OP IMMUNITIES:

  • In general, the class action lawsuit challenged CWT as a vehicle for price-fixing and as a violation of antitrust. Due to the stature of all of the parties involved in developing the CWT, along with the fact a decade passed from the time CWT was instituted and before this suit was filed, it is difficult to understand the impact of the allegations in this suit at this time.
  • The CWT was initiated in 2003, and this suit was filed in 2014. The CWT was well publicized, and legal teams would have had significant input into its design. Why was the CWT not challenged legally at its inception?
  • Did those who designed the CWT miss something at the time, or have times changed and events in the decade since diluted the abilities of Capper-Volsted, the Clayton Act, and how they relate to the Sherman Act?

Questions going forward for all Agriculture Co-ops:

  • Will more lawsuits of this nature be initiated by AR groups? How will we in agriculture get prepared for them?
  • What other kinds of challenges will Capper-Volsted, the Clayton Act, and the Sherman Act have to withstand going forward from any other type of consumer group?
  • As will all big picture events occurring in agriculture today, this settlement could have implications far beyond a $52 Million Dollar Settlement. Only time will tell.

UPDATE –

A Bloomberg writer has posted this article on Sept. 8.  In my opinion, radical wording in the headline which is very shortsighted and shows a lack of knowledge and research into the program’s early days.    This is another example of how words can harm a challenged industry of great people mostly trying to maintain their family farms, which are a treasure to them.   We in agriculture have got to figure out why folks think so little of us, and farms that do feed a world are taken so much for granted. .

The Huffington Post has posted this article.

What’s Missing: 2008-2010 Dairy Crisis saw farm prices down the drain, and Fast Food Dollars and Taxes were generated by the hamburger industry

One item left out of the discussion of any ‘big media’ report is that if the program were designed to raise prices, then the years of 2008-2010 saw some of the worst milk prices in history as paid to farmers.  Many farmers were forced to exit the business in those years, and if they didn’t exit, lost many years of equity. However, if any of those numbers were brought up during the course of the suit’s activity, then a thorough study of the transcripts is required.

And then, there’s no doubt that the slaughtered cows, which were slaughtered by elective choice of the owners, many who may have been facing financial walls, went into the fast-food industry as hamburger.  Event the HuffPo article admits that.  However, what is left out is the amount of income this generated for the fast food industry, along with the tax dollars generated.

This story continues to evolve, and many questions remain.

Southeast Milk Litigation: All Payments to be Finalized in Fall of 2016

Sun Photo by Phil GentryFederal Court House

Sun Photo by Phil Gentry Federal Court House

(Greeneville, TN)  All payments to class members in the Southeast Milk Litigation (SEML) will be final this fall with the completion of up to two additional payments from different settlements in the historic Class Action.

One of those payments will complete the cycle of payments in the Dean Foods portion of the Settlement. Individual recipients should expect to receive an amount similar to the previous Dean payments.

“Almost unbelievably, there are some uncashed checks from previous payments which need to be cleared before those payments can be finalized,” says John Harrison, Class Representative for the plaintiffs.

“Those uncashed checks must be accounted for or reconciled before final payments can be made, since everything must zero out before final closure of the Settlement accounts.”

Letters, some containing reissued checks, have been sent to the owners-of-record of those uncashed checks, with a reminder that those checks must be deposited within 30 days  of check issue (approximately, by the third week of August).

ANY QUESTIONS?  Act Immediately!  If anyone believes that they fall into this category of ‘uncashed checks,’ or if anyone believes they are due a payment which they have not received in previous cycles, they are asked to immediately contact the Attorneys-of-Record of each of the Litigation subclasses as follows:

Independent producers, as well as all other producers belonging to co-ops other than DFA, should contact Baker-Hostetler, by phone at 202- 861-1500, or via mail at:

Southeast Milk Litigation

Baker & Hostetler LLP

Attn: Robert Abrams, Greg Commins, or Danyll Foix
1050 Connecticut Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20036

 

DFA producers should contact Brewer & Terry, by phone at 423-587-2730, or via mail at

     Southeast Milk Litigation

Brewer & Terry, P.C   Attn:  Steve Terry or Gary Brewer

1702 W. Andrew Johnson Hwy

Morristown, TN   37816

The Dean Foods Settlement, a total of $140 Million dollars to be paid over five scheduled payments, was final in June of 2012, with four of those payments already paid to class members.   This fall’s payment will be the last.

The second expected payment, much smaller, will reflect the final apportionment of the Dairy Farmers of America and Related Entities Settlement, which received final approval by the Court in May of 2013.  The initial $140 Million Settlement phase was paid out in one lump sum at the end of December, 2013, and was prorated to individual class members according to production in defined time frames. This fall’s payments will distribute any remaining funds.

All activity in this case was conducted following Federal Class Action laws and directives, and all procedures took place accordingly, under the supervision of the Court.  Judge Ronnie Greer presided over the case.

The amounts of the total Settlement in this case, which totaled in excess of $280 million dollars, set a record in the US Federal Court, Tennessee, Eastern District of Tennessee, and is one of the highest ever reached in dairy or food industry history in the United States.  Terms of each of the Settlements state  that none of the defendants admitted guilt.

For court documents and more information on the litigation, please refer to www.southeastdairyclass.com.  In addition, various articles are posted at www.milkshedsblog.com, or please google search “Southeast Milk Litigation.”