Dean Foods settlement to pay farmers

BURLINGTON — Some Vermont dairy farmers may soon see some financial relief following a proposed $30 million court settlement by the Dean Foods Company.
The Texas-based dairy processing giant is one of two defendants in a class-action antitrust lawsuit brought by farmers in the Northeast in May. The farmers, who filed the case in the U.S.
District Court of Vermont, accused the two major food companies of price-fixing and illegal monopolization of the dairy industry, which they said artificially maintained low milk prices at the expense of struggling dairy farmers. Dean Foods is the largest dairy processing company in the country, but the suit also targeted the Dairy Farmers of America cooperative.
Financial papers that the company filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Dec. 9 stated that the company had reached an agreement with the plaintiffs in the case to settle all claims against the company to the tune of $30 million. The document also stated that the company would agree to other terms and conditions concerning milk collection at its processing plants located in the Northeast.
According to the document, the agreement is pending court approval, and members of the dairy industry are watching the updates closely.
“We’re all waiting to hear about it, for sure,” said Amanda St. Pierre, a Richford dairy farmer and leader of the advocacy group Dairy Farmers Working Together.
Reporter Andrea Suozzo is at [email protected]

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