Lawsuit Alleges That Dairy Farmers Killed 500,000 Cows to Raise the Price of Milk

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Cows lined up at a dairy farm.

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There's popular imagery surrounding the dairy industry in California, one of 'happy' cows peacefully grazing on a lush hillside under the beautiful blue sky -- but the reality, it seems, is quite a departure from this. According to a class-action lawsuit filed recently on behalf of consumers against an enormous milk conglomerate known as Cooperatives Working Together (CWT), California dairy farmers conspired to illegally drive up the cost of milk and cheese products by killing dairy cows -- some 500,000 otherwise healthy animals. The pending case, if proven true, is just the latest in a long line of unimaginable cruelties in an industry where that seems to be the status quo.Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, a firm based in Los Angeles, alleges in their lawsuit that several prominent dairy companies (which include the National Milk Producers Federation, Dairy Farmers of America, and Land O'Lakes) formed the CTW with specific intent to fix the price of milk and cheese in the United States. The suit affirms that the illegal scheme, which involved the killing of thousands of cows, resulted in the undue profits totaling more than $9.5 billion.

With less milk on the market, prices of dairy goods across the US rose from these illegal actions taken between 2003 and 2010.

Berman, part of the legal team that filed the class-action lawsuit, spoke with KOMO News regarding just how the industry set about needlessly killing cows to boost profits:

"The cooperatives got together and instituted what we'll call a killing program; they retired cows," he said. Berman said the milk producers called it "dairy herd retirement," but he insists it was a way to cheat consumers and line their own pockets.
"Using their own numbers, we calculated conservatively that [they] raised the price of milk over a seven-year period by $10 billion," Berman said.

These allegations are troubling from a number of fronts; there is, of course, the violation of law in regards to the price-fixing scheme -- but more serious are the crime against nature, which if true, proves yet again the potential horrors inflicted upon animals when society views them as mere commodities.