Export containers
December 26, 2019

CWT Program Exports Nearly 1 Billion Pounds of Milk Equivalent Dairy Products

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

The Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) program accepted 535 offers of export assistance this year, the milk equivalent of 956.3 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

The 2019 totals included 48.9 million pounds of American-type cheese, 46.1 million pounds of whole milk powder, 6.8 million pounds of cream cheese, 5 million pounds of butter and 123,458 pounds of anhydrous milk fat. The exports are going to 27 countries across the globe.

In the last week of CWT activity for 2019, the program accepted 16 offers of export assistance for customers in Asia and Central and South America.

Last year, CWT exported a billion pounds of milk equivalent by late summer. But activity was curtailed somewhat this year in anticipation of the settlement of a lawsuit against the program. That settlement amounted to $220 million.

The suit was brought by large retailers and food companies, who alleged CWT’s herd retirement program that operated between 2003 and 2010 artificially raised cheese and butter prices. CWT settled a similar class action suit brought on behalf of consumers in 2016 for $52 million.

CWT will continue to operate, but its ability to assist export sales will be somewhat limited as it pays off the large settlement to the food companies. CWT still faces a third case brought in Florida by Winn-Dixie, Inc. But this case is much smaller in scope.

About 30 dairy cooperatives and individual dairy farmers participate in CWT. The assessment is 4₵/cwt.

For more on the program, click here.