DFA Subclass Litigation – Trial now Nov.

ImageDairy Farmers and Class Members living in Federal Orders 5 & 7 have begun receiving Class Notices and Opt-Out Notices in regards to the DFA Recertification Subclass in the historic Class Action Southeast Milk Litigation.

In layman’s terms, DFA rank-and-file members in Federal Orders 5 & 7 are now eligible to receive damages – should any come via settlement, injunctive relief, or award by a jury – from their own co-op. These Class members will also have to meet certain standards specfied by the Court in a Class definition.

This is in accordance with the Court’s ruling on June 1st, 2012 following a series of motions and responses by attorneys for dairy farmer plaintiffs and defendant attorneys for DFA corporate businesses – Dairy Farmers of America, Inc.;  Mid-Am Capital, LLC;  Dairy Marketing Services, LLC;  National Dairy Holdings, LP; and an individual, Gary Hanman, former CEO of DFA.  This series of litigation activity was completed with a Hearing for Oral Arguments for Recertification on April 17th, followed by entry of the Judge’s ruling six weeks later.

Complete information, in a question and answer format, can be found by clicking this link: http://www.southeastdairyclass.com/PDFs/NotificationofCertificationofDFASubclass.pdf

The Court’s reason for the recertification can be summed up in one sentence found in the Order: “Plaintiffs have offered substantial proof that the alleged conspiracy has injured all members of the independent farmer subclass and the DFA farmer subclass.”

The Opt-Out option should be taken only if a Class Member/Claimant does not wish to receive any future settlement monies, or monies awarded at trial should a jury find actions of the DFA-related businesses did indeed harm the Southeast dairy community, and to what degree (signaled by the amount of dollar rewards).

Needless to say, DFA filed a petition to appeal that ruling with the Sixth Circuit.  Due to that action, the trial scheduled for July 10th has been continued to November 6th (Election Day).  Should the appeals court deny the petition, the Class stands and trial proceeds with the entire class intact.  Litigation  will proceed with Independent Farmers as plaintiffs irregardless of the decision of the Appeals court concerning DFA members.

More information about the entire Class Action is publicly available at the official Class Website, www.southeastdairyclass.com.

This DFA recertification segment of the litigation follows a previous $145 Million Settlement by defendants Dean Foods, Southern Marketing Agency, and James Baird.  The settlement also included some forms of injunctive relief. This Settlement received Final Approval from the Court on Friday, June 15th.

Audits of claims forms are being conducted now by Rust Consulting.  Those claims forms were submitted during March and April to Rust. It will likely be later this fall before payments to farmers begin.

Legal events, although generally considered unpleasant or controversial, are a part of the Worldwide Milkshed. Sometimes they are the only course of action left for a farmer to get answers about events and companies whose ultimate responsibility should be to ‘protect the farmer’s income.’  With the farmer’s income protected, a consumer will have more peace-of-mind about domestic food security, because farmland will have more certainty about financial sustainability.

Lawsuits or judgments can serve to change the course of the way milk is priced to the farmer, or hold accountable businesses and individuals in their practices that ultimately affect the sustainability of the farmer – the person where a Milkshed begins.

Worldwide Milkshed

The Worldwide Milkshed. 

It’s the worldwide milk delivery system that begins with forages and grains that a cow eats and ends with dairy products that end up on a consumer’s table.


The Worldwide Milkshed has many layers –  on-farm production, transportation,  regulations, politics, legal events, economics, never-ending debate and consumer perception.  It is local, it is regional, it is national, it is international, and could become inter-galactic.

The Worldwide Milkshed is many things at one time.  It is magical, mysterious, mean, money-generating and money-hungry,  manifold,  mandatory for the economic survival of rural economies, logical and irrational, and a key to providing protein for the world’s ever-growing and ever-hungry population.

But most of all, the Worldwide Milkshed is about PEOPLE.  People who live on multi-generation family farms, run dairy farm businesses, and who love the land. People who make their living from transporting milk, processing milk, selling milk, promoting milk,  consuming milk, and talking about milk.  People who are inspired by milk to benefit society, or harm society.  People who benefit from milk’s nutritional contribution to the world – after all, it has long been determined to be “nature’s most nearly perfect food.’

Most would say the most important layer in the Worldwide Milkshed is the dairy farmer – where the sweat happens, the nights never end, the challenges are great, the financial rewards lean- or lucrative, and the dedication to getting the job done while producing food for others the strongest. The farmer is the heart and soul of the Worldwide Milkshed.

The Worldwide Milkshed is a symbiotic relationship – for consumers to benefit, farmers must benefit, and remain financially sustainable.  Both are forever intertwined, and must listen to each other in honest dialogue, not rowdy rhetoric.  This blog will be a platform for listening, and reasoning, and then taking action.

May God Bless the Worldwide Milkshed!

The Worldwide Milkshed – let the discussions begin!