Consumers Fighting Milk Prices Certified as Class

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The dairy industry must face a class action alleging that it limited raw-milk production to drive up the prices of yogurt, sour cream and other products, a federal judge ruled.
     The Sept. 16 class-certification order U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White covers 14 states and Washington, D.C. Though the plaintiffs, led by Matthew Edwards, wanted certification in a 15th state, West Virginia, White said they lacked standing to do so “because there is no plaintiff from that state.”
     In addition to D.C., the plaintiffs can accuse the National Milk Producers Federation aka Cooperatives Working Together of violating the state antitrust laws of Arizona, California, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin.
     The 2011 lawsuit alleged that the federation and its members used premature “herd retirements” to limit raw, farm milk production in a nationwide conspiracy. The herd retirements required farmers to “destroy” their dairy cows and agree not to re-enter the dairy-farming business for at least one year, according to the complaint.
     Such restrictions led to an increased price in milk, cream, half and half, yogurt, cottage cheese, and sour cream, the consumers claimed.
     Rather than deny the herd-retirement allegations, the industry has claimed immunity. Judge White did not address that argument in his order.

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