Big Dairy Might Owe You a Little Money

January 17, 2017

Were you, at any point between 2003 and 2016, a resident of one of the following 15 states—Arizona, California, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia, or Wisconsin? Or did you happen to live in Washington, D.C? Okay. While living in any of these territories, did you purchase milk or any milk-based product, such as cottage cheese, cream cheese, half-and-half, sour cream, or yogurt?

Cool. It turns out you may have been duped by Big Dairy, which fluffed up milk prices and ended up preying on unsuspecting consumers. Now, those of us who paid these inflated prices for our dairy are eligible for a small settlement claims, wads of capital that can reach as high as $75 per individual.

These settlement claims have their roots in a lawsuit filed in 2011, when animal rights group Compassion Over Killing, represented by class action firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, filed a lawsuit against Big Dairy producers. Compassion Over Killing had discovered that the groups in question had slaughtered hundreds of thousands of cows in order to slash milk supplies in the early aughts, all with the endgame of padding prices for dairy in grocery stores and other retail outfits.

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The defendants—which included National Milk Producers Federation along with the Dairy Farmers of America, Land O’Lakes, DairyLea Cooperative, and Agri-Mark—ended up losing the case this past September, opening the floodgates for duped customers to file claims for money drawn from the suit's $52 million fallout. The act of filing these claims is astonishingly simple; BoughtMilk is a site where customers can file claims in under a minute, so long as they swear that they aren't lying about their past residencies. The site also explains that customers must have gotten their milk products through a grocery store or third-party retailer, not directly from the original manufacturer.

There’s an unfortunate belief that this news applies to citizens of every state. I'm afraid that's false; citizens of the aforementioned states and D.C. are the only ones entitled to this money. If you're a consumer who meets these outlined parameters, though, you’ve got until January 31 to file your claim. Act fast. Get your money. And buy whatever milk you'd like with it.

Ever notice anything weird about milk prices, anyway? Let us know in the comments.

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On Black & Highly Flavored, co-hosts Derek Kirk and Tamara Celeste shine a light on the need-to-know movers and shakers of our food & beverage industry.

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Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


Smaug January 18, 2017
I have noticed that butter prices suddenly shot up around 50% a few months ago (at least in the few places in Nor Cal that I shop), and have so far heard no sort of explanation for it.
Antoinette R. January 18, 2017
Horrible animal abuse! I remember when the "shortage" occured and milk prices sky rocketed in NH.
Sam1148 January 17, 2017
If this is anything like the Tuna settlement. Where starkist has it's fingers on the scale. Good luck. I think it's been 4 year and still no payouts.
Moshee January 17, 2017
Thanks Mayukh! First I've heard of this. Just filed my claim. Wooooohooooo!!!! I knew they were ripping us off.