Largest Dairy Cooperative Under Fire for Massive Corruption and Betrayal of Farmer Membership
Washington D.C. (July 6, 2008) "Twenty-five family farm, dairy, and consumer groups sent a letter on June 26 to the Senate Judiciary Committee requesting immediate public hearings and oversight of the nation's largest dairy cooperative, Dairy Farmers of America, concerning antitrust abuses and rampant corruption. Recent articles in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal in May exposed former DFA CEO Gary Hanman's covert and illegal payment of $1 million to former DFA Board Chairman Herman Brubaker. DFA is now under investigation by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, while the two-year investigation into DFA completed by the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division has yet to see the light of day due to the U.S. Attorney General's Office repeated stonewalling and refusal to bring the case forward.
National Family Farm Coalition Dairy Subcommittee member Donna Hall, a Pennsylvania dairy farmer, said, "As a farmer who was forced to do business with DFA, it is extremely frustrating and outrageous that the DOJ refuses to bring the DFA case forward after years of work by U.S. antitrust attorneys. DFA has not been working for the interests of dairy farmers for a long time and the recent news revelations expose just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to DFA's criminal behavior. I hope the Senate Judiciary Committee can finally look into DFA's detrimental impact on our dairy industry.
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Dairy farmer and Ohio Farmers Union vice-president Bryan Wolfe said, "For the sake of our rural communities, we need the Senate Judiciary Committee to take immediate action in seeking justice for America's dairy farmers. Dairy farmers have complained for years about DFA's frightening market power and predatory business practices which have led to the demise of thousands of dairy farms and an increasingly consolidated industry that limits farmers' options on where they can market their milk."
Pennsylvania dairy farmer and Progressive Agriculture Organization member Brenda Cochran noted that many more organizations wanted to sign onto the letter, but fear of reprisal from DFA and loss of market access made them reluctant to do so. Cochran disclosed, "Farmers are scared. Our independent cooperatives remain silent out of fear as well. DFA has basically intimidated so many of us while rewarding those farmers and associations who support its corrupt practices and won't rock the boat. But we are sick and tired of DFA's behavior and it's high time the U.S. Senate look into how DFA keeps hiding behind laws designed to protect farmer cooperatives when they have long ceased being a farmer-controlled coop."
In addition to producers, consumers have also suffered from DFA's antitrust violations. Patty Lovera, Assistant Director of consumer group Food & Water Watch said, "Consumers impacted by the recent rise in milk prices and interested in having a safe, fresh, local supply of milk should be extremely concerned with the corrupt business practices of DFA. Their antitrust tactics have driven dairy farmers out of business in many parts of the country, leaving consumers without local options and forced to pay higher prices for milk. Neither farmers nor consumers have benefited from DFA's control of the dairy markets."
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NFFC urges the Senate Judiciary Committee to exercise proper oversight into the activities of Dairy Farmers of America that have left the U.S. with only 60,000 remaining dairy farmers.
Contact: Irene Lin (202) 543-5675
National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC), founded in 1986, unites and strengthens the voices and actions of its diverse grassroots members to demand viable livelihoods for family farmers, safe and healthy food for everyone, and economically and environmentally sound rural communities.
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ph (202) 543-5675
(c) 2008 National Family Farm Coalition