Southern dairy farmers' perception of their cooperative's or proprietary handler's performance, level of satisfaction with the milk handler, and reasons for staying with the handler, or for shifting handlers, were evaluated. The data were from a 1989 mail survey of Southern dairy farmers. The dairy farmers' differing evaluations of their milk handlers depended on the type of handler they dealt with, geographic location, and/or the characteristics of the farm and farmer. Generally, dairy farmers were concerned about price, deductions, and assessments. The price farmers received appeared to be a significant factor affecting farmers' satisfaction level. There appeared to be a tradeoff between price and deductions versus service, and market and payment assurance. Dairy farmers wanted cooperatives to provide an assured market for members' milk.