If you live in one of 15 states “Big Dairy” just might owe you a milk refund. The up to $75 per individual estimated dairy products refund could be a welcome surprise, but the story behind how the mandatory refund evolved has been deemed heart wrenching by animal rights activists.
Anyone who purchased a dairy product and lived in one of the following 15 states or Washington, D.C. from 2003 and 2016 is due a refund from the dairy industry: Arizona, California, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The milk refunds are part of a lawsuit settlement brought by the animal rights group, Compassion Over Killing. The group was represented in the class action lawsuit against Big Dairy producers by the Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP firm, MSN reports. Compassion Over Killing investigators believes hundreds of thousands of cows were slaughtered to decrease the milk supply and run up dairy product prices at grocery stores.
Class action lawsuit settlement means anyone who bought milk in Michigan since 2003 is due a refund https://t.co/87pAKtPt6P
— WXYZ Detroit (@wxyzdetroit) January 17, 2017
Compassion Over Killing
Multiple major dairy producers have been ordered to pay $52 million to settle the antitrust class-action lawsuit that accused them of slaughtering 500,000 cows simply to inflate prices. The Compassion Over Killing lawsuit defendants included the National Milk Producers Federation, Dairy Farmers of America, Land O’Lakes, DairyLea Cooperative, and Agri-Mark.
“This cow-killing program exploited both the animals and the consumers, and resulted in the early deaths of half a million cows,” attorney Cheryl Leahy told the Huffington Post. Leahy is general counsel for Compassion Over Killing. The group filed the lawsuit in 2011.
Compassion Over Killing investigators research possible animal cruelty incidents. In the video unrelated to the milk refund case below, animal slaughter practices at a California plant caused the facility to be shut down by the USDA. Some of this plant’s major customers reportedly included the federal school lunch program.
Warning: images in the video may be disturbing
The Big Dairy lawsuit maintained that Cooperatives Working Together, a trade group reportedly directed by the National Milk Producers Federation, was in charge of a “herd retirement program” from 2003 through 2010. The program reportedly consisted of dairy cooperatives buying up entire herds of cattle, specifically from small farms, and sending them out for early slaughter. Typically, old dairy cows, or “spent cows” are slaughtered and sold as cheap ground beef.
When so many dairy cows were purchased and slaughtered all at once, the price for milk, cream cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and other dairy products, rose in response to the self-imposed shortage. According to a report by Scott Brown of the University of Missouri-Columbia, between 2004 and 2008, the herd retirement program increased the price per 100 pounds of milk by $0.59 per on average.
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) January 17, 2017
The Cooperatives Working Together program maintains the mass slaughter of dairy cows was not about price gouging at all. The group said the herd retirement program was an entirely voluntary self-help farmer-funded project that allowed “dairy farmers who wanted to stop farming, to exit farming altogether.”
Big Dairy has not been found guilty of breaking any laws as a result of the class action lawsuit. National Milk Producers Federation President Jim Mulhern called the lawsuit settlement the “most sensible and responsible” decision which could be made to resolve the case.
“It is important to note that the court has found no antitrust violation and CWT makes no admission of wrongdoing in this settlement,” Mulhern added.
Compassion Over Killing has deemed the lawsuit decision and corresponding order for milk refunds, a win. Vegetarians on social media seem to readily agree with that assessment.
“This settlement sends a message to the dairy industry that they cannot harm people and animals out of simple greed without any accountability,” Leahy said. “They are not above the law.”
Meat eaters, on the other hand, feel if all the world decided to stop eating animal products, entire farm livestock species would eventually become endangered and ultimately, found only in zoos or become extinct. The posters also noted how expensive it is and how much time and money it takes, to raise large livestock such as cattle – adding few would step up and offer to keep cows as pets.
Consumers in the 15 states and Washington, D.C. who bought milk during the designated period have until January 31 to file a claim for milk refund. The process appears to be fairly simply and begins with a visit to the BoughtMilk website. Filing a claim reportedly takes less than one minute.
[Featured Image by Igor Bukhlin/Shutterstock]