Feds File Antitrust Suit Against Dean Foods

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The Justice Department has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Dean Foods Co., saying a recent acquisition has spoiled a regional market for milk.

The lawsuit says Dean’s 2009 acquisition of Foremost Farms USA’s Consumer Products Division eliminates substantial competition in the sale of milk to schools, groceries, and convenience stories in Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

The government is trying to force Dean to undo the deal, which led the company to acquire two dairy processing plants in Wisconsin, and left many school districts with only one milk supplier.

Antitrust officials in the Obama administration have said they will take a tougher look at competition issues in agriculture, including the dairy industry. Dean is headquartered in Dallas.

Dean Foods was named as a defendant in a class action suit brought by dairy farmers last fall alleging it and Dairy Farmers of America forced farmers to join DFA or its marketing affiliate to stay in business.

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