Like Ben recently said, we try to keep the content here on OMAAT about miles and points or aviation. But occasionally he lets me go off the rails and talk about random stuff that will still save or make you money even if it doesn’t have much of anything to do with travel. This is one of those times.
If you haven’t heard by now, there was a recent class action lawsuit alleging that Cooperatives Working Together, a federation of milk producers, colluded to fix the price of milk and other dairy products. They supposedly slaughtered half a million cows prematurely in a program called “herd retirement” to hold down production and thus drive up prices.
And you thought OPEC was the world’s leading cartel… they might learn a thing or two from these milk guys.
Anyway, the lawsuit was settled as these things usually are, and the milk producers agreed to pay $52 million dollars to affected consumers. If you live in one of the states included in the lawsuit and bought milk at some point in the past 14 years, you can claim your share.
Our Regulated Free Market Economy
Back when I was living in Boston in the early 2000s, I remember an interesting lawsuit against a couple of dairies who were accused of selling milk below cost. That’s right, their milk prices were too low, the exact opposite of this lawsuit.
Midland Farms and Cumberland Farms were supposedly using milk as a loss leader to lure customers into their convenience stores where presumably they’d buy higher margin items. Others claimed they were selling below cost to drive out the competition.
Either way, Massachusetts is now one of the states involved in this lawsuit.
So apparently you can’t sell milk at a loss in Massachusetts. But you can’t sell it for a profit either.
Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. The point is that there’s a settlement and you might as well milk it for all you can.
How Do I Claim My Share?
Head over to the BoughtMilk website and register. It takes maybe 30 seconds. You need to do this by January 31st.
You’ll get an email confirmation:
Who Is Covered By The Class Action?
You need to have been a resident of Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia, or Wisconsin to be included. I’m not a lawyer, so I can’t tell you the definition of residency.
States included in the class action settlement
Oh, and you also need to have bought milk at some point since 2003. Nowhere does it ask you to prove that you bought milk, however. Nor did I see any residency verification.
How Much Will You Get?
There are numbers being tossed around of between $10 and $50 per claimant. In reality, we just don’t know. That’s because the total pot of money is split among everyone who files a claim. So the more that claim a share, the smaller each share will be.
Well, that’s not quite accurate — the lawyers get their fees off the top, and it seems they might be getting as much as one-third of pot or about $17 million. It’s the lawyers who skim off the cream in these things.
But you’ll likely get something and it only takes a few minutes to apply.
The milk wars are an interesting case study in how the government gets involved in regulating our supposed free market economy. Not that long ago, milk producers were being sued for selling milk on the cheap, and now they’re paying millions for selling it too high. It’s possible, of course, that that was their plan all along — sell cheap, drive out competition, then raise prices. It just so happens that they got caught.
After a wave of mergers in the airline industry, it does make me wonder if ten years from now we’ll be having the same discussion about the price of airfare. At the moment, the government has backed off their investigation and has seemingly concluded that the airlines aren’t colluding. But as the case of milk shows, these perspectives can change over time.
And with that, I did manage to tie this back to travel in the end. See Ben, I told you I could do it.
Now go claim your milk money….