Dairy Lawsuit Payout Deadline Approaches

08/17/11 12:44PM By Jane Lindholm, Ric Cengeri
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AP/Toby Talbot
Dairy cows stand in a field in Coventry, Vt.

(Host) Dairy farmers have one week left to decide if they'll participate in a class action settlement with Dean Foods. Farmers could receive a one-time payout of $3,000 to $5,000.

The settlement stems from a lawsuit filed by six farmers, including 2 in Vermont, who claimed that Dean Foods and two other entities colluded on setting the price that farmers are paid for milk.

Diane Bothfeld is deputy Agriculture Secretary. She won't encourage or discourage farmers in their decision to participate in the class action, but she says she doesn't see a downside to it:

(Bothfeld) "From what I can see reading the settlement, no, I do not see a downside for farmers to take part.  It does not exclude them from the continuation of the lawsuit with the other defendants. If there's a future lawsuit against Dean Foods, they're not excluded from that.  From what I can read in the settlement, and not being a lawyer, I cannot see a downside for farmers if they choose to take part."

(Host) The original proposed settlement included provisions that some farmers worried would result in less favorable milk contracts. Bothfeld says that provision isn't in the final settlement agreement.

The deadline to claim the payment is Tuesday.


Listen to Jane Lindholm's interview with Secretary Bothfeld.



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