According to the Southeast Dairy Class website, the DFA & Related Entities Settlement Funds were distributed (mailed) on December 19, 2013. This means that present and former dairy farmers should begin receiving those checks at any time, although they could be affected slightly by Christmas mailings. Given the mail these days, it could be that the checks may land in mailboxes on December 31st, although hopefully it will be before that time.
CONSULT YOUR TAX PROFESSIONAL!! It is no secret that some of these checks will be sizable. Added to the Dean Settlement Fund payment #1 received in January, and the Dean Settlement Payment #2 received in September, the total of the three Settlement checks may present some tax challenges to prepare for before the end of this year. Please contact your accountant or tax preparer as soon as possible for advice!
The average of these checks will be slightly over $14,000; but could range from less than $200 to tens of thousands of dollars, all depending on the pounds of class-eligible milk determined per an individual claim.
Estimating/knowing the amount per check (approximate) - several ways:
1.) Wait till you receive the check, and you will know for certain. (Some folks began receiving checks today).
2.) Before you get the check - using the Claims Administrator's Report (attached document):
a. If you have kept copies of the amount of pounds you claimed, or had approved, or know your claim number - you can check the attached 375-page document.
b. You will first have to scroll to page 99, the first page where the "Authorized Claims" begin.
c. The allowed claims are in descending order by pounds, with the highest amounts of pounds allowed at the beginning of the list, and the lowest amount of pounds at the back of the list. The list goes on for 275 pages more.
d. NOTE: The claims numbers (by producer) are NOT in numerical order.
e. Find your allowed claims/pounds, and look at the %age number in the right hand column. Then, multiply the net settlement fund amount, $85,644,095.34 by that %age which you believe is yours. That should give you the approximate total you can expect, provided your calculation numbers are correct.
f. Remember, your requested claims/pounds may differ slightly or greatly from your authorized claims/pounds, and these may differ somewhat from the pounds claimed in the Dean Settlement process.
3.) Before you get the check - using the Dean Settlement Payment 1 (the payment you received in January of 2013) - this will be an APPROXIMATION!
a. That first Dean Settlement payment is 40% of the total you will receive by the time Dean Payments are expected to be completed in 2016.
b. Therefore, this amount should be close (but not exactly the same) to 40% of the total of the DFA & Related Entities Settlement payment you will receive.
c. For instance, if you received a $4,000 payment in January, your DFA Settlement payment/check will be approximately $10,000. (This is an illustration.)
WHAT IF I DON'T RECEIVE A CHECK SOON? (OH, My GOODNESS!)
Unfortunately, the mail isn't perfect. If you don't receive an expected check in the next few days, CONTACT THE CLAIMS ADMINISTRATOR (RUST CONSULTING) AT ONCE! Their phone number is 1-800-874-2297, or email is email@example.com. Any recovery necessary will be much easier if you kept copies of your paperwork, along with any certified mail receipts with documentation numbers. However, be warned, recovery may prove difficult, since this is a one-and-done payment, with little reserve.
It will prove beneficial to understand the settlement to read the first sections of the attached Claims Administrators report.
While these are not the final activities to take place concerning the terms of any of the Settlement Agreements, I am very hopeful that we can begin to close the door on what has no doubt been a painful time frame in the Southeast, and begin a new chapter of understanding our dairy payment system more completely, and striving for a new spirit of cooperation among producers. Without the farmer first, there would be no "extended dairy industry."