Why the Dairy Industry Slaughtered Half a Million Cows

© Tetra Images/Getty Images

By Danica Lo Posted September 09, 2016

Milk might be wholesome, but the industry's behind-the-scenes practices are not.

Got milk... anytime between 2003 and the present day? You may be eligible for some belated cash back. Here's the gruesome reason why:

Some of the largest dairy conglomerates in the United States—including the National Milk Producers Federation, Dairy Farmers of America, Land O'Lakes, Inc., Agri-Mark, Inc. and Cooperatives Working Together (CWT)—will soon be coughing up $52 million in a settlement over a lawsuit filed in 2011 alleging that the defendants were complicit in a seven-year-long mass premature slaughter of half a million cows to fix milk prices throughout the country. The class action, which was originally researched and developed by Compassion Over Killing, a national animal protection organization, was filed by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP in the Northern District of California. The complaint alleged that "the increased price allowed CWT members to earn more than $9 billion in additional revenue."

"The biggest dairy producers in the country, responsible for almost 70 percent of the nation's milk, conspired together in a classic price-fixing scheme, forcing higher prices for a basic food item onto honest consumers and families," said the law firm's managing partner Steve Berman. "We're pleased that this settlement will return some of what consumers lost due to this massive fraud perpetrated for ill-gotten gains."

How does this settlement affect consumers? Well, if you purchased milk or fresh milk products (like cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.) in Arizona, California, Washington, D.C., Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia, or Wisconsin anytime between 2003 and now, you can submit a claim—no proof of purchase required!—online at boughtmilk.com. Once final approval is granted to the settlement, those who have filed claims will be eligible to receive direct deposits to online accounts including PayPal and Google Wallet. If you have questions about filing the claim, you can also contact the Settlement Administrator at 1-877-417-4561.

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