If the dairy can cover bottling costs, it can give the 7,000 gallons of milk away that it currently is dumping.
Dakin Dairy Farms owner Jerry Dakin is not crying over his spilled milk — not even to the tune of 7,000 gallons per day.
However, he is hoping to find a better solution than wasting what his farm is producing. Because restaurants and other businesses are closed, there currently are no buyers for his milk.
But Dakin sees an opportunity.
“The only thing I can do is help people, and hopefully, it’ll come back,” he said. “To me, it’s a time to give.”
As long as the dairy has milk to dump, it plans to sell its milk at cost — $2.50 per gallon. Dakin said each gallon costs about $1.50 to produce and another $1 to bottle.
He’s also selling gallons of heavy cream for $5. They can be used to make homemade butter and whipped cream.
“There are people out there that don’t have jobs right now,” Dakin said. “It’s for everybody to survive.”
Dakin said he’s willing to give milk away to organizations who can use it for families in need. He has donated to places like Meals on Wheels Plus of Manatee. However, he can't absorb the cost of bottling milk longterm.
Individuals or businesses who want to help can fund the $1 per gallon for bottling. For example, one woman donated $400 to provide milk for Bayside Community Church to distribute, Dakin said. Dakin absorbed the cost of the milk itself.
He hopes others will follow suit.
“It hurts to throw (milk) away,” Dakin said. “People who need it — I can give it to them. I’ve got to do something.”
Dakin Dairy began offering discounted milk to the public April 4.
Dakin said he is grateful for the community’s support. The Farm Market at Dakin Dairy, which sells milk, cheeses, ice cream and milkshakes, has had lines daily. On April 11, the public purchased 5,000 gallons, compared to a typical Saturday’s 300 gallons.
In his decades of dairy farming, Dakin said he’s never experienced something as impactful to business as the COVID-19 pandemic. Even when Hurricane Irma hit in 2017, he lost business, but it was only for one week. The pandemic is having months-long consequences ... and counting.
He said the situation shows the value of sustaining local agriculture. Although some grocery stores are running out of milk and limiting quantities, Dakin said there should be no need to do so.
Out-of-country or out-of-state agricultural purchases sometimes might be cheaper, but they do not benefit the community overall, he said, and ultimately will result in price increases after local farmers are put out of business.
Dakin said he and other farmers, like himself, are ready to supply stores with the products consumers need.
“This farm is always going to be here if the local people support it,” he said.
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