For a Better World
For a Better World
Nov 30, 2021
Get Big or Get Out: Dairy Farmers of America
Play • 45 min

Dairy is big business. And while the workers and small-scale dairy farmers are getting squeezed out, those at the top are reaping the benefits and getting even richer. Farmers originally organized cooperatives to build power and market share. But one of those cooperatives, Dairy Farmers of America, has gotten so big and powerful, there are questions about whose interests they are serving. 

In this episode, we unpack the growing corporate consolidation in the dairy industry and rise of farmer cooperative Dairy Farmers of America. Claire Kelloway of Open Markets Institute breaks down what the push to“get big or get out” means for farmers, workers, and consumers--and some ways to challenge that growing corporate power.

Topics covered include:

  • Bad cafeteria food is a norm that’s hard to escape – and that’s because the system is rigged that way.
  • How the dairy industry is changing with more cows packed onto fewer farms, and driving a crisis of low prices and overproduction.
  • The role of farmer cooperatives in supporting farmers’ livelihoods - and how those structures can go wrong.
  • The rise of Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) – and why this powerful mega-cooperative has been sued by the very farmers who own it.
  • How Fair Trade USA’s “fair trade dairy” label is putting its seal of approval on some of the root causes of “Unfair Dairy.”
  • The era of the “Robber Barons” and what that has in common with today’s industrial food system.
  • Anti-trust law, and how it can be a powerful tool to support building a fair food system for farmers, workers, and all of us who eat.

Do you work on a farm participating in the “Fair Trade Dairy” program? We want to hear your perspective. Send a message to or call (800) 631-9980.


Claire Kelloway’s reporting on cafeteria contractors and how that system is rigged in favor of big food companies:

Article by Leah Douglas covering Dairy Farmers of America: 

Learn more about the potential of cooperatives as a tool for farmers to transform their livelihoods and build alternative economic structures from Andres Gonzales of Manduvira Cooperative in Season One of For a Better World:

More of Claire Kelloway’s writing on Dairy Farmers of America: 

Claire Kelloway and Open Markets Institute piece on how anti-monopoly and anti-trust rules can support worker organizing and a more democratic economy:

Open Markets Institute report on “Redeeming the Democratic Promise of Agricultural Cooperatives”

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