The National Milk Producers Federation announced a settlement agreement that would end a class-action lawsuit concerning the Herd Retirement Program, which offered dairy farmers financial incentives to market their milking herds for beef. It operated between 2003 and 2010.
The program was administered through the federation’s Cooperatives Working Together initiative. The settlement will safeguard ongoing efforts to aid U.S. dairy producers, lift a cloud over the industry that’s lasted years, and it allows NMPF member cooperatives and the current CWT program to move forward with more certainty.
The plaintiffs consisted of larger retailers and companies who directly buy butter and cheese from CWT member cooperatives. The settlement amount is $220 million in exchange for a release of all claims. Neither the NMPF nor any of its member cooperatives admit any wrongdoing as a result of the settlement.
“There is no way to sugarcoat a settlement of this size, especially given that the Herd Retirement Program was a well-publicized effort designed to serve dairy producers in difficult times,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the NMPF. “It was praised by two Secretaries of Agriculture and a number of the leading members of Congress.”