American Farm Bureau & others advising farmers not to pay back Dean Foods

At least 500 farmers, milk haulers, and others have received letters from bankruptcy lawyers representing the Dean Foods Estate in an effort to collect funds distributed during the company’s bankruptcy proceedings.

While it’s not uncommon for businesses undergoing a bankruptcy to try and take back funds, experts say most farmers should be able to avoid repayment.

American Farm Bureau Senior Counsel for Public Policy Travis Cushman tells Brownfield it’s reprehensible that the debtor would target hardworking dairy farm families to recover payments honestly earned for the supply of milk during a time when they are struggling through a multi-year downturn in milk prices and a difficult economic environment with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We don’t want anybody to pay any money that they should not be paying to Dean’s Estate because of these letters.”

Farm Bureau is calling for the lawyers to retract their demands and return any money that has been collected from the letters or they will be investigating legal options for the farmers.

The Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board, with at least 100 members targeted by the letters, is among a growing list of dairy groups advising farmers not to repay as they prepare how to address the claims.

Dairy Farmers of America, who has acquired most of Dean’s assets, is also preparing field staff to help answer questions.

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