Dairy co-ops move to dismiss price-rigging suit

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, January 11, 2012 -The National Milk Producers Federation and four of its largest members have asked a federal judge in San Francisco to throw out a suit filed by vegan and animal rights activists claiming that the producers' Cooperatives Working Together dairy herd retirement program illegally raised milk prices.

 Together we can feed the Bees

Compassion Over Killing and its supporters alleged last year that NMPF, Dairy Farmers of America, Land O'Lakes, Dairylea and Agri-Mark conspired to slaughter more than 500,000 cows under the CWT scheme, reducing milk supplies and increasing profits by $9.5 billion.

The co-ops petitioned District Court Judge Jeffrey S. White to dismiss the suit. They argued that the 70-year-old Capper-Volstead Act, an antitrust law allowing collective action by farmers, granted exclusive jurisdiction over “undue price enhancement” allegations to the secretary of agriculture.

They pointed out that USDA has a Capper-Volstead Act Committee consisting of the chief economist, general counsel and under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs. “There have been at least seven investigations of undue price enhancement by the secretary since 1969, six focusing on the milk industry,” they added, but no complaints have been upheld.



Original story printed in January 11, 2012 Agri-Pulse Newsletter.

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