Dean Foods, D.F.A. face antitrust lawsuit

by Staff
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WASHINGTON — Dairy Farmers of America and Dean Foods Co. are facing a lawsuit that alleges antitrust violations in the northeastern U.S.

The lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of two farmers by Benjamin Brown, a Washington lawyer, claims the dairy businesses have violated antitrust statutes in an effort to try to obtain monopoly power over the region’s dairy farmers. The lawsuit also claims through a series of acquisitions Dean Foods and D.F.A. have acquired near monopoly power over the region’s bottling plants and processing facilities, which has funneled the raw milk produced in the area into essentially a single buying entity. This in turn has allowed the companies to eliminate competition and name their own price, the suit states.

Mr. Brown said the suit eventually may represent all the region’s dairy farmers.

"It is disappointing that although Dairy Farmers of America’s activities in the northeast have improved prices for cooperative members and independent producers alike, these charges are being brought against us," said Monica Massy, vice-president of communications for D.F.A. "We will aggressively defend ourselves against allegations as we believe them to be without basis. Our strong relationships with other cooperatives and the creation of Dairy Marketing Services in the northeast have enabled us to achieve efficiencies and obtain cost-savings in the areas of field services, hauling and administration — all for the benefit of dairy farmers. We are continuously looking for additional ways to increase dairy farmer pay price and net returns, not suppress them, and have been successful in doing so."

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