The hearings were held by Vermont Senators Patrick Leahy (D.) and Bernie Sanders (Ind.), and were called to look into consolidation of the dairy processing industry and its impact on prices paid to farmers. The main target, Dean Foods Co. of Dallas, Tex., was not invited to testify, however.
Deans did provide a statement, however, stating that it buys 15% of the nation's milk supply, with 60% of it coming from independents and cooperatives other than Dairy Farmers of America (DFA). DFA has also been cited for dampening competition. DFA also provided a statement, saying its market clout is often "inflated and misrepresented.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney General Christine Varney did testify, saying the consolidation of dairy processing in recent years in the United States has increased "the potential for an exercise of buyer power.
"There is no doubt that we will prosecute that kind of activity should we find it,” she told the packed hearing.