Order requires Dean Foods to pay 90 percent of its post-bankruptcy USDA milk marketing obligations.
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Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs (MRP) Greg Ibach and Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Bruce Summers review a half gallon of fluid milk purchased with Section 32 funds, which will provide food for distribution to food banks and other nutrition assistance programs through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) during their visit to the Capital Area Food Bank in NE, Washington, D.C., on Dec. 10, 2018. The event will allow the attendees to see a delivery of fluid milk, which was recently made an option for purchase under Section 32. The supplier of the fluid milk is Dairy Farmers of America through Dairy Maid of Frederick, Maryland. The delivery will be from a purchase that is part of the normal operations of administering Section 32 and not related or associated with the authority or administration of possible purchases under Section 5 of the Commodity Credit Corporation related to trade mitigation. USDA photo by Preston Keres

On January 15, 2021, the Honorable Chief Judge David R. Jones, of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, signed and entered a Stipulation and Agreed Order (Order) between the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which is serving as legal counsel of record for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Dean Foods.

The Order requires Dean Foods to pay within 30 days $29,082,182.26, which is 90 percent of its obligations to the USDA for milk marketed in April 2020 and May 2020.

On November 12, 2019, Southern Foods Group, LLC, et al., (Dean Foods) filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. At that time, Dean Foods had 43 plants regulated by the federal milk marketing order (FMMO) system. Subsequent to the filing date, Dean Foods, as the Debtor-in-Possession (Dean DIP), failed to make payments to USDA for milk marketed from April 1, 2020, through May 4, 2020, totaling $32,313,535.84. The missed payments included monies owed to the FMMO program, the National Dairy Research and Promotion Program and the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Program.

Upon receipt of payment, USDA will remit monies owed to FMMO-regulated handlers and the Dairy and Fluid Milk Promotion Boards. Once handlers receive payments from USDA, FMMO regulations require that the money be promptly remitted to producers.

Procedures for handler payments to producers will be communicated through the respective FMMO Market Administrators.

Dean Foods’ $16 million pre-petition debt owed to USDA is not covered by this Stipulation and Agreed Order. USDA filed timely Proofs of Claim for these pre-petition obligations and will continue to pursue payment of those claims through the bankruptcy proceeding.

THE Dairy Industry Code of Conduct has brought about a “significant culture change” within the dairy sector and helped increase competition at the farmgate, according to Australian Competition & Consumer Commission deputy chair Mick Keogh.

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