Lawsuit filed by CWT against Illinois livestock auction over herd retirement

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ARLINGTON, Va. — Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) is suing a livestock auction market in Greenville, Ill., that purchased cattle from a CWT member, but instead of selling them for slaughter, apparently resold some them to a different farmer, in violation of the terms of the herd retirement program.

On Sept. 1, the National Milk Producers Federation, which operates Cooperatives Working Together, joined Illinois dairy farmer Kevin Kessler, and Kessler Dairy Inc., as a third plaintiff in the civil action Kessler v. Greenville Livestock Auction, filed in the Circuit Court for St. Clair County, Ill.

Herd retirement

Kessler was a successful bidder in the recent Cooperatives Working Together 2010 herd retirement program operated by NMPF, under which CWT paid Kessler retire his herd of 340 dairy cows. One of the requirements of the CWT herd retirement program is that accepted herds must be sent immediately to slaughter.

Kessler sold his herd to defendant Greenville Livestock Auction, on the express condition that the herd would then be sold to a slaughter facility.

Kessler and NMPF contend that Greenville Livestock Auction did not sell the herd to a slaughter facility as it had contracted to do, but instead, sold some of the cows as replacements to another dairy farm.

Contract breach

Kessler and NMPF contend that the defendant breached its contract to sell the cows for slaughter; unjustly enriched itself by buying cows at a beef price under false pretenses and then reselling them at a much higher replacement price; and committed fraud in violation of the common law and the Illinois consumer protection statute.

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