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Letters to the Editor: National Dairy Producers Organization

Published on 22 May 2015

Dear Editor,

The National Dairy Producers Organization Inc. (NDPO) is the only national dairy farmer organization comprised entirely of dairy farmers with the goal of dairy farmer-sustainable profitability. Today, dairy farmer-owned processing co-ops claim to control more than 80 percent of the milk produced on our nation’s dairy farms.

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Dairy Farmers of America Inc. (DFA), the defendant in the ongoing case of Allen v. Dairy Farmers of America, is one of these dairy farmer-owned processing co-ops. In our opinion, DFA has contributed to the loss of more than 180,000 dairy farms in the U.S. since 1980.

Most NDPO members are like the plaintiffs in the case, who are dairy farmers, owner-members of processing co-ops and pool milk under federal orders.

The problems of the plaintiffs and issues being litigated are the same problems and issues many NDPO members have with their respective processing co-ops they own and ship milk to.

1. Management fails to comport themselves as cooperative and fiduciaries existing for the benefit of dairy farmer owner-members but rather operates the dairy farmer-owned cooperative processor as a for-profit corporation that benefits management only at dairy farmers’ expense.

2. Management fails to promote dairy farmer profitability and, on the contrary, actively pursues policies and actions that promote dairy farmer losses.

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3. Management philosophy and strategy is one that promotes unrestrained milk growth which, in turn, causes a milk supply in excess of profitable demand which, in turn, results in dairy farmers selling their milk for less than what it costs to make.

4. Management fails to implement a business plan that pays a profitable price for the dairy farmer owner-member’s milk.

Obviously, what happens in this case could have a significant impact on the remaining 45,000 dairy farms in this country and whether they ship their milk to a public, private or cooperative processor.

As the court has properly determined, the proposed monetary payment is not sufficient remedy for the defendant’s wrongdoing.

More importantly than an adequate monetary payment, we argue the court should also consider placing the defendant organizations into some type of temporary court-supervised receivership until the organizations’ dairy farmer owner-members can create some new organizational rules and elect new leadership so that the defendant organizations can be re-created for their original purpose – the pursuit of the sustainable profitability of dairy farmer members. PD

—Mike Eby
Chairman
National Dairy Producers Organization

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