“Based on antitrust rules that mandate a tripling of any damages,
[the $220 million] is less than 6 percent of the damages sought by plaintiffs”
-NMPF release announcement
NMPF settled the case because it was at risk of even larger damages if the case gone to trial. “The settlement amount will be paid through existing CWT mechanisms, ensuring no disruption to other business operations,” the release further states.
“Given the potential damages and the uncertainties surrounding any jury trial, resolving this case eliminates the possibility of a truly crippling outcome,” says Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEO. “Lifting this cloud will aid us in work advancing the well-being of U.S. dairy producers, which includes the current robust CWT export assistance program.”
One source within NMPF says the organization was anticipating some kind of settlement would eventually have to be made. The original suit was filed in 2013, and NMPF has been building its CWT reserves over the past several years. It will surely have to use some CWT future funds as the terms of the settlement are worked out.
CWT officials anticipate they will be able to continue to operate CWT export assistance at the same level as they have in the recent past. During October, the CWT program has supported export sales of cheese, butter, whole milk powder and other dairy products that equate to nearly 900 million pounds of milk equivalent. In 2018, CWT export-supported sales topped 1 billion pounds of milk equivalent.