The news story at the end of this e-mail got me thinking. Do you ever hear leaders of the Oklahoma agriculture community publicly discuss the topic of illegal or abusive practices by large agri-businesses?
Remember the video of men beating a crippled cow? Many people saw that as a symptom of abuse at the top of the dairy industry. Last week that abuse was confirmed when a major milk processor paid hundreds of millions of dollars to settle claims that it cheated farmers through illegal price fixing. Such illegal abuse and the financial pressure it causes ends up damaging farmers, families, workers, animals and ultimately consumers.
This is an important problem, especially in Oklahoma, but it seems to be ignored. Do you know of any instance in which the issue of abuse of market power by large agri-businesses has been addressed by Oklahoma’s main land grant university (OSU), farm organizations, agricultural news media or the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture? What causes their silence? Ignorance? Fear? Complicity?
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
by Chris Kick
SALEM, Ohio — Although it “makes no admission of wrongdoing,” Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) has agreed to pay $158.6 million to settle a class action lawsuit that alleged raw milk price-fixing in a 14-state region stretching from southern Indiana through the southeastern United States.
This agreement, the third and final settlement in the Southeast Milk Antitrust Litigation, was announced Jan. 22, the day the case had been scheduled to go to trial.
The Cleveland-based law firm BakerHostetler, which represented the plaintiffs (mostly dairy farmers), said the DFA settlement agreement brings the total award to more than $300 million, as well as substantial changes to how business will be conducted in the Southeast dairy industry.
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