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DFA ordered to divest itself of two former Dean Foods plants

Colleen Kottke
Wisconsin State Farmer
As part of a proposed final judgement, DFA is required to divest the intellectual property associated with the De Pere Dean Foods plant, including the exclusive right to using the “Dean’s” name in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and licenses for the “TruMoo” and “DairyPure” brand names nationwide.

A judge has approved the proposed final judgement against the country's largest dairy cooperative this week, which will keep two dairy plants operating under the Dean Foods banner and saving jobs.

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, along with the U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, filed a complaint in May against Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), which acquired Dean Foods property out of bankruptcy.

DFA acquired the assets, rights, interests, and properties relating to 44 of Dean Foods fluid and frozen facilities after a US bankruptcy court in Texas approved the sale of Dean Foods plants to DFA for $433 million – just five months after the giant milk processor filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The DOJ argued that DFA's acquisition of Dean's plants would lead to a loss of competition in the dairy industry.

The final judgment requires that DFA divest two plants, one in De Pere, Wisconsin, and one in Harvard, Illinois (also known as the Chemung plant) to a buyer within thirty days.  DFA is also required to divest the intellectual property associated with the De Pere plant, including the exclusive right to using the “Dean’s” name in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and licenses for the “TruMoo” and “DairyPure” brand names nationwide.

“(US District ) Judge Gary Feinerman is right: this judgment will save critical Wisconsin jobs,” Kaul said in a news release. “Maintaining strong competition in Wisconsin’s dairy market is important for our state’s economy, especially as the economy continues to be impacted by the effects of the global pandemic.”

The judge noted that the proposed divestiture would save the jobs at those facilities while addressing the Clayton Act competition concerns.

The U.S. Department of Justice will approve the buyer of the De Pere and Harvard plants.

Assistant Attorney General Gwendolyn J. Lindsay Cooley represented the State of Wisconsin in this matter.