In recent weeks, Tennessee dairy producers and milk haulers who previously supplied Dean Foods received letters from ASK, LLP, a law firm representing Southern Foods Group involving Dean Dairy Holdings. The letters sought to reclaim payments made within 90 days prior to the Dean Foods bankruptcy.
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David Hamlin takes a break from loading hay into a truck bed in Sweetwater, Tennessee on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. Hamlin works with a lot of dairy farmers and could lose a lot of business if those dairy's went under. (Photo: Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel)

With the support of the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation and other Tennessee dairy partners, we have been working closely with the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office to determine a path to resolution on this issue.

I am pleased to let you know we have received assurances directly from ASK, LLP that it will accept executed declaration statements from Tennessee producers and haulers in the same manner offered to producers in other states, with an eye toward closing matters if supported by the completed declarations. It is extremely important that affected Tennessee dairy producers and haulers act now to complete and return the appropriate declaration found here and here. Producers and haulers should submit completed declarations directly to ASK, LLP to the contact address provided in the original clawback letters. Failure to act could result in additional legal proceedings to resolve issues with individual producers and haulers.

This announcement is being provided as an industry courtesy. None of its content is intended, nor should it be construed, as legal advice. All recipients of this announcement are strongly encouraged to seek the counsel of a qualified private attorney familiar with bankruptcy laws for any questions or concerns regarding the Dean Foods matter.

I want to thank Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery and his staff for their earnest support and swift attention to this matter. Throughout our efforts his office has recognized the importance of Tennessee’s hard-working dairy farmers and the contribution they and their families make to our economy, our communities, and our safe and wholesome food supply.

Sincerely,

Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M.
Commissioner
Tennessee Department of Agriculture

Last month, 14 of our dairy farms in Maine, as well as dozens of dairy farms across northern New England, got an unexpected and disappointing notice from Danone of North America saying that they were discontinuing their contracts with our organic dairy farmers in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and elsewhere.

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