The Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) has sold its stake in Southern Belle Dairy in order to settle an antitrust lawsuit brought against the industry body by the Department of Justice and Kentucky state authorities.

The suit, filed in 2003, suggested that DFA’s minority stake in Southern Belle reduced competition for the sale of milk to schools in eastern Kentucky and Tennessee.

In 2004, US District Court judge Chief Justice Karl Forester found that the DFA did not have a monopoly on the sale of milk in these areas. However, this decision was overturned by the Court of Appeals in 2005, when the case was referred back to the district court for trial.

In a statement, the dairy cooperative said that the sale of its interest in the dairy company was effective as of Monday (2 October). The DFA did not disclose financial terms of the deal.  

“Although DFA disagreed that competition was impacted, DFA, to bring closure to this matter, agreed to divest its interest in Southern Belle’s operation,” DFA said in the release.

Settlement of the suit will allow the DFA “to more fully focus its time and resources on the economic well-being of its dairy-farmer owners,” the group said.