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Ownership of Myakka's Dakin Dairy to remain in the family

Jerry Dakin sold his farm to his four nephews, who will continue to operate the dairy.

Agriculture and dairy farming have been a way of life for Jerry Dakin and his nephews Jason Dakin, Garrett Dakin, Grant Dakin and Ethan Dakin.
Agriculture and dairy farming have been a way of life for Jerry Dakin and his nephews Jason Dakin, Garrett Dakin, Grant Dakin and Ethan Dakin.
Photo by Liz Ramos
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Myakka City’s Ethan Dakin never dreamed of becoming a firefighter or police officer.

He wanted to be a farmer.

His father, Cameron Dakin, is a farmer, and his grandfather, Pete Dakin, was a farmer. 

“I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” Ethan Dakin said. 

The odds of the Dakin farming legacy continuing through future generations has increased as Ethan Dakin and his older brothers, Grant, Garrett and Jason, have bought the Dakin Dairy farm from their uncle, Jerry Dakin.

Jerry Dakin, who is 55, had decided to sell his farm on Betts Road after 22 years. He said he was committed to seeing Dakin Dairy continued as opposed to the land being taken over by a developer and turned into houses.

Ownership of Dakin Dairy officially was transferred to Ethan Dakin, Grant Dakin, Garrett Dakin and Jason Dakin on May 1. 

Jerry Dakin loves that he was able to keep Dakin Dairy not only as agriculture land, but in the family. 

He hopes the farm will help shape the lives of his nephews. Jerry Dakin, a former Florida Farm Bureau Farmer of the Year, said he would not be who he is today as a leader and farmer without his dairy farm. 

“That’s what makes me so excited with these guys, because it will push them out of their comfort zone,” he said.

Keeping it in the family

Dairy farming is nothing new to the nephews. The four brothers also own Boyz Ag, along with their own personal farms. 

Ethan Dakin, Grant Dakin, Garrett Dakin and Jason Dakin are third generation Florida farmers, and with their children already invested in agriculture, Grant Dakin said he hopes to see a fourth generation involved at Dakin Dairy as well. 

“It’s in our roots,” Grant Dakin said. “We were born and raised in it and enjoy it. It’s come to be what we know. We’ve seen what (Jerry Dakin) has done with the place, and we had an opportunity to step in, take over and take it to the next level.”

Dakin Dairy will remain in the family as Jerry Dakin has sold the farm and plant to his nephews Jason Dakin, Garrett Dakin, Grant Dakin and Ethan Dakin.
Photo by Liz Ramos

Grant Dakin said as soon as they could push a clutch on a tractor, he and his brothers were working at Cameron Dakin Dairy. Cameron Dakin made sure his sons knew how to work with the animals, how to use the equipment and to do what is needed on a farm. 

Growing up, Grant Dakin said Dakin Dairy was a place for family birthday parties and community gatherings. He recalled playing in the red house at Dakin Dairy that’s now used for photoshoots for families who visit the farm. To the brothers, it was their clubhouse. 

Ethan Dakin said Dakin Dairy was more a place to have fun rather than work when they were kids. 

Now Dakin Dairy is the next step in the brothers’ careers. 

Jerry Dakin now spends every available moment discussing what needs to be done at the farm with his nephews. That includes reaching out to the best people as resources, and how to handle potential problems. He also shares his personal wisdom and running a dairy.

Jerry Dakin said the knowledge of running a dairy is more important in the long run than the inheritance of any land money. He said his father, Pete Dakin, gave him the knowledge to make Dakin Dairy what it is today. He will pass that same knowledge along to his nephews.

“The greatest thing my dad gave me was knowledge," Jerry Dakin said. "I want the opportunity to transfer that knowledge and be a sounding base for them. At the end of the day, they can make whatever decision they want to make. I’m just going to be here as an advisor. I want to see them succeed more than anybody.”

Working with family isn’t always easy, but after decades of working together, the Dakins said they’ve learned to separate business from family concerns

Over time, they have had heated discussions over business, arguments about key decisions and disagreements with end results. No matter what, Ethan Dakin said they’ve always come back together as a family to support each other. 

Future of growth

The 350-farm, which Jerry Dakin said started only with a couple hundred cows, now has at least 2,200 head of dairy cattle, six free-stall barns, a milking parlor, production areas, commodity storage, silage storage and a milk processing plant capable of processing and packaging all milk produced on site.

Jerry Dakin said the plant is functioning at about 40% right now. 

Ethan Dakin said the priority is upgrading the equipment and technology in the plant to boost the plant’s productivity with the hopes of having it at 100%. He said the plant operating at 40% gives them time to make adjustments without hindering current production. 

Jason Dakin takes care of the cows at Dakin Dairy.
Photo by Liz Ramos

Jerry Dakin said the potential growth opportunities for his nephews are endless. 

“There’s four boys with four different inputs, and that’s why I feel this thing can take off,” he said. “It’s working with the community and the customers that are out there, seeing what the community wants.”

Although Ethan Dakin, Grant Dakin, Garrett Dakin and Jason Dakin have been around dairy farms all their lives, Grant Dakin said the bottling aspect of the industry will be new to them, but they are eager to learn. 

The nephews are considering new sources of revenue that include producing new natural products. They’re hoping to find ways to increase the shelf life of their products while maintaining high quality. 

The brothers say each one demonstrates different strengths that will help them continue to succeed in the agriculture industry. Grant Dakin and Ethan Dakin said Jason Dakin is known for his people skills and sales while Garrett Dakin focuses on crops, nutrition, irrigation and more. They said Grant Dakin handles more of the finances and engineering aspects of the farm while Ethan Dakin is the go-to-guy on animal welfare and equipment. 

They’ll use their personal strengths to bring Dakin Dairy to “the next level,” Grant Dakin said. 

Ethan Dakin said the brothers want to spend the coming months focused on upgrading the farm before having a grand re-opening sometime in the fall. 

The brothers said the community will continue to be at the forefront of Dakin Dairy. Community events will continue to be held at the farm as well as farm tours. 

For years, Jerry Dakin has said local, state and federal regulations make the agriculture industry a tough business. On top of that, there’s challenges with a dwindling workforce, escalations in the cost of equipment and supplies, a growing population that forces development and natural challenges such as hurricanes. The farmers are also up against electric companies buying land to create fields filled with solar panels. 

Despite the challenges, the brothers said their passion will drive them.

“People need to be challenged in life,” Ethan Dakin said. “No matter what you’re doing, if you’re not challenged, you become complacent and you don’t grow.”

While the brothers are hard at work at Dakin Dairy, Jerry Dakin said he will be enjoying retirement and focusing on the compost business.




Liz Ramos

Liz Ramos covers education and community for East County. Before moving to Florida, Liz was an education reporter for the Lynchburg News & Advance in Virginia for two years after graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism.

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