Hundreds of dairy farmers nationwide fear they could owe substantial sums to the bankrupt dairy processor Dean Foods after the company sent out letters attempting to claw back payments made to farmers in the months preceding the company’s Chapter 11 filing last year. Dean’s actions have been harshly criticized by farm groups and, for some, underscore the dangers of a heavily consolidated dairy industry that leaves farmers with few processing options. (No paywall)
The milk cooperative Dairy Farmers of America has entered into an agreement to buy most of milk processor Dean Foods’ assets as part of the latter’s bankruptcy proceedings. If approved, the $433 million deal will make DFA both the largest milk supplier and the largest milk processor in the country.
Members of the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery, a century-old dairy cooperative in Vermont, will vote later this month on whether to merge with the nation’s largest dairy cooperative, Dairy Farmers of America. But even as low milk prices and ongoing consolidation have threatened the region’s dairy farmers, St. Albans’ members are split on whether linking up with DFA will address their woes.
On Tuesday, in Lairdsville, Pennsylvania, farmers gathered to discuss the current crisis in the dairy industry. They testified about the impact of falling milk prices, considered possible solutions, and expressed anger at federal policymakers’ spotty record of supporting the industry at a time when dairy farms across the country are going out of business.
Last week, Dean Foods announced it was canceling its contracts with more than 100 independent, conventional dairy farmers. The farmers, who are located in eight states, will have until May 31 to find a new market for their milk. Meanwhile, dairy prices are plummeting across the country. (No paywall)