Dairy Cooperative Settles Antitrust Suit

Montpelier — The cooperative Dairy Farmers of America has agreed to pay a total of $50 million to thousands of Northeast dairy farmers to settle antitrust allegations from a 2009 class-action lawsuit.

The lawsuit charged the cooperative, its marketing arm, Dairy Marketing Services, and Dallas-based Dean Foods with working together to monopolize the market for raw milk in the Northeast, driving down prices paid to dairy farmers.

DFA said in a statement Monday that it did not admit any wrongdoing under the terms of the settlement.

"While we believe the allegations against us were without merit and the activities of DFA, Dairy Marketing Service (DMS) and other affiliated milk marketing cooperatives in the Northeast benefited cooperative members and independent producers alike, the cost to continue to defend ourselves has become too great," it said.

Benjamin Brown, a lawyer for the farmers, said the settlement was preliminary and the law firm did not want to comment now.

The settlement must be reviewed and approved by a judge. Read More

Drought drives drilling frenzy for groundwater in California

The drought in California may be thousands of miles away, but it's having a direct effect on the rest of the country, including the Great Lakes region.

As part of our Front & Center series, we'll be reporting on that all week. But first we take you back to California, which grows nearly 50 percent of the nation's produce.

The situation for farmers and ranchers has become so dire there's a potentially dangerous drilling boom going on. Not for oil or gas. For Steve Arthur practically lives out of his truck these days. But he's not homeless. He runs one of Fresno's busiest well drilling companies.

"It's officially getting crazy. We go and we go but it just seems like we can't go fast enough," he says, sitting behind the steering wheel as he hustles up and down Highway 99 to check on drilling rigs that run 24 hours a day, probing for water.

Some days, Arthur doesn't even have time to stop for gas; he's got an extra tank hooked up to the flatbed of his pickup. He says he's lucky if he gets three hours of sleep a night. Read More

Northwest dairy producers see strong margins

Northwest Farm Credit Service sreports Northwest dairy producers are using strong margins to reinvest in facilities and operations verses significant milk-production expansion.

Historically high milk prices and falling feed grain prices are making for strong profits for Northwest dairy producers. Strong year-to-date dairy exports and only modest gains in U.S. milk supply are adding to the mix of favorable conditions, according to Northwest Farm Credit Services.

Strong profits are driving producer reinvestments in facilities and operations rather than significant expansion, Northwest FCS reported in its quarterly market snapshots, released late last week.

Blend milk prices in Washington state through the end of the year are forecast at $20.42 to $23 per hundredweight. In Idaho, they are forecast slightly lower at $19.75 to $22 per hundredweight. Class III milk futures are ranging between the mid-$19 and mid-$22 per hundredweight through year's end, Northwest FCS reported. Read More

A Brave New World For Global Dairy Marketing

By 2035, 25 of the 50 biggest cities will be in Asia, 10 in Africa & western business model may no longer dominate

One challenge for directors of dairy co-operatives in an increasingly globalised market is to have an understanding of the likely future structure and operation of global dairy markets. Such an understanding permits directors to make a more informed input at board level when it comes to approving the future strategic direction of their co-operative.

The Global Dairy Platform (GDP) is an international organisation that provides direction to the dairy industry. It connects various industry stake holders in a forum designed to assist them collaborate on worldwide dairy issues at a pre-competitive level. GDP is focused on expanding global demand for milk and dairy products through a more co-ordinated effort across regions to promote the dairy industry.

Part of a recent international workshop organised by GDP focused on "The Future of Dairy Marketing". The workshop was based upon a strategic scenario planning exercise undertaken with SAMI Consulting, a UK based futurist think-tank. At the workshop attendees sought to develop an understanding of how global trends may affect dairy's role in food and nutrition security. Read More