Farm Bureau Stepping Up in Dean Foods Legal Proceedings

Brian German Dairy & Livestock, Industry

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is getting involved in the Dean Foods legal proceedings. The major dairy processor filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in November of 2019. Dairy farmers who had previously sold milk to the company have been sent letters demanding repayment of previous milk checks. In the letters, producers are being threatened with legal action if they fail to refund money that was legitimately paid to farmers. AFBF is stepping up for farmers, demanding an immediate halt to calling on dairy producers for money.

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“Shame on these predatory lawyers for bullying dairy farmers at a time when many are struggling to keep their farms running,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said in a news release. “It’s ludicrous to suggest the meager profits from regularly scheduled and routine milk sales – sales that are heavily watched and regulated by the federal government – were outside the regular course of business. Someone needs to have the farmers’ backs and I’m proud to say AFBF is stepping-in to do just that.”

AFBF has sent a letter of its own to the legal firm that is representing the estate of Dean Foods. The letter explains that milk checks paid to farmers were legitimate and that the demand for repayment has no lawful standing. AFBF has threatened legal action of its own if the repayment letters are not withdrawn and funds already received are not returned.

“It is reprehensible that the Debtor would target hardworking dairy farm families to recover payments honestly earned for the supply of milk that allowed the Debtor to generate revenue and conduct its business,” the letter states. “Many producers are independent farmers who are struggling through a multi-year downturn in milk prices, and a difficult economic environment with the Covid-19 pandemic that has increase milk price volatility above anything farmers have ever experienced. These Letters have put Producers who are already at the brink in an impossible position – either pay the amounts demanded or incur the cost of legal counsel to defend against the Debtor’s allegations.”

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West