FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lisa Griffith, firstname.lastname@example.org, 773-319-5938
Washington, DC, March 25, 2022 – More than a decade after filing a lawsuit against DairyAmerica and California Dairies, dairy farmer plaintiffs from National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC) member organizations received some long overdue resolution.
Prior to the filing, NFFC’s Dairy Subcommittee provided multiple documents outlining dairy industry corruption to government agencies, including the misreporting of milk prices to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) survey. Frustrated with the government’s disregard and farmers’ loss of income, dairy farmers Gerald Carlin, Bryan Wolfe, Paul Rozwadowski and John Rahm filed a lawsuit in March 2009, claiming that DairyAmerica and affiliate California Dairies had underpaid farmers for their raw milk by tens to hundreds of millions of dollars.
In 2019, the parties agreed that all US dairy farmers selling raw milk into the Federal Milk Marketing Order between January 1, 2002, and April 30, 2007, excluding DairyAmerica and California Dairies, were entitled to funds from the awarded $40 million settlement in Carlin v. DairyAmerica.
Even with the settlement, dairy farmers have not recouped the actual cost of lost profits, which USDA and Plaintiff experts estimated from $50 million to $100 million. However, the lawsuit exposed the processor misreporting of milk prices to NASS.
Dairy farmer Diana Wolfe (Ohio), who replaced husband Bryan as a plaintiff after his death in 2012, said, “I’m glad the lawsuit is over. We probably didn’t get all that we deserved, but these processors were proven wrong and didn’t get away with what they were doing.”
Plaintiff Paul Rozwadowski (Wisconsin) agreed. “I’m glad that DairyAmerica and California Dairies were forced to pay a settlement, but they also know they’re being watched now; processors can’t get away with misreporting milk prices to NASS. We’ve lost thousands of dairy farmers and the small local businesses – from alfalfa seed suppliers to veterinarians – that depend on them over the past 50 years.”
In 1970, the USDA accounted for 648,000 US dairy farms; today there are fewer than 30,000. Without enforced cost-of-production milk prices, supply management mechanisms, a competitive marketplace and managed imports and exports, processors continue to underpay family farmers.
In January 2022, plaintiff farmers in Carlin v. DairyAmerica filed a subsequent motion to distribute more than $211,000 in unclaimed funds to seven organizations, including NFFC, that represent dairy farmer interests. The funds will support NFFC’s fight for policies that ensure dairy farmers are paid fairly for their milk.
Included in this fight is NFFC’s new dairy proposal, the Milk from Family Dairies Act, which provides dairy farmers a fair price, guarantees steady, safe and affordable dairy products, and revitalizes rural areas with more independent family dairies to steward land and livestock. The Coalition calls on Congress to include proposal recommendations in the 2023 farm bill to provide meaningful, comprehensive dairy policy reform to strengthen farmers, workers and their rural communities.
Since 1986, National Family Farm Coalition has been mobilizing family farmers and ranchers to achieve fair prices, vibrant communities, and healthy foods free of corporate domination. Today, NFFC’s 27 member groups span 44 states and represent family farmers, ranchers, and fishing people across the United States.