$52m available to milk buyers in 15 states as part of antitrust settlement

$52m available to milk buyers in 15 states as part of antitrust settlement

(WMBF) – Bought milk? Residents of 15 states and the District of Columbia who bought dairy products between 2003 and today could receive $10 to $20 as part of an antitrust settlement with the dairy industry.

To claim the moola, head to BoughtMilk.com and answer a few simple questions regarding residency and dairy purchase history, then click "Submit your Claim!" The deadline to file a claim is January 31.

BoughtMilk.com is the official website for the Fresh Milk Products Price-Fixing Class Action Lawsuit, filed in 2011 and alleging that U.S. dairy producers slaughtered more than 500,000 cows to reduce milk supply and drive up dairy prices. Producers are paying $52 million to settle the suit.

According to the Huffington Post, a trade group operated by the National Milk Producers Federation oversaw a "herd retirement program" between 2003 and 2010 that consisted of dairy cooperatives buying out whole herds of cattle, primarily from small farms, then sending them to early slaughter, limiting the supply of raw milk and driving up prices on dairy products. A 2009 analysis found that "herd retirement" added an average of 59 cents per 100 pounds of milk.

The lawsuit was spearheaded by the animal protection group Compassion over Killing. The settlement releases various dairy industry groups from the claims made in the suit without them being found guilty of violating any antitrust laws.

Claimants must have lived in the following states between at least part of 2003 to present: Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia, or Wisconsin. They must also have purchased milk or fresh milk products, including cream, half & half, yogurt, cottage cheese, cream cheese, or sour cream during that time.

Entities, such as school and after school programs that purchased larger volumes of milk for students and participants and did not charge them, are entitled to between $280 and $560, according to the suit's website.

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