© 2024 All Rights reserved WUSF
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Dakin Dairy is for sale. Owner says it's time for a new generation

A black and white dairy cow lies on the ground as one stands behind, near a fence at the farm
Kerry Sheridan
Cows rest by a fence at Dakin Dairy Farm, November 28, 2023.

Jerry Dakin and his family have been in the dairy business for decades. He says he plans to stay nearby and continue working in agriculture and the environment.

A large dairy farm is for sale in Manatee County, after its owner said he hopes a new generation of farmers will want to lead what has been a longtime fixture of the community.

Dakin Dairy Farm in Myakka City sustained major damage in Hurricane Ian last year and more than 200 cows perished during the storm, but owner Jerry Dakin said repairs have since been completed.

"I have taken it to a pretty amazing place," said Jerry Dakin, 55, who has led the farm for 22 years. "We've got everything built back here and it's stronger than ever," Dakin said.

"I think it's time for the next generation, a new person to take it a little further."

According to a statement from Dakin Dairy, the farm spans 350 acres and has 3,100 cows. The property for sale includes a dairy processing plant and farm store, where Dakin Dairy products like milk and cheese are sold.

A wide shot of dozens of cows inside an open barn
Kerry Sheridan
Cows in a barn at Dakin Dairy in Myakka City, November 28, 2023. The barn was damaged in Hurricane Ian and is shown in its current condition, as rebuilt and repaired.

The farm has long been a popular spot for agritourism and a destination for school field trips.

Dakin declined to share the asking price for the farm, but said he is willing to help the transition and plans to continue to live nearby.

He acknowledged that the loss of two of his brothers in recent years — Farren Dakin to COVID-19 in 2020 and Rodney Dakin to a car accident last year — factored in his decision.

"Me losing two brothers, you know, it's just really opened my eyes up that I need to be looking forward," Dakin said.

Jerry Dakin's family has been involved in cattle farming for decades. His father, Pete, moved the family from Maine to Florida in the 1960s and began farming in Parrish.

Jerry Dakin wears a black polo shirt and cap, jeans and boots, as he stands in front of his destroyed barns shortly after Hurricane Ian hit in 2022. The same barn, now repaired, is pictured above.
Kerry Sheridan
Pictured in 2022, not long afte Hurricane Ian swept through, Jerry Dakin stands in front of one of the barns that was destroyed. The same barn, now repaired, is pictured above.

Jerry Dakin said he began his farm in Myakka City with a couple hundred cows more than two decades ago. His brother, Cameron, continues to operate a dairy farm nearby.

Asked if he would sell to developers, Dakin said that's not his plan.

"My passion is agriculture. And to me, I am going to do everything I can to keep it in agriculture," said Dakin, a former Florida Farm Bureau Farmer of the Year.

Dakin said he plans to work on water issues, his composting business, and get involved in Manatee County leadership, as he searches for a buyer who can take advantage of new technologies, like artificial intelligence, in dairy farming.

"There's so much AI technology out there. And they can take it to there. For me, trying to figure out the GPS sometimes irritates me," Dakin said with a laugh.

A sign says Welcome to Dakin Dairy, Myakka City, near a dirt road
Kerry Sheridan
A sign on the road leading into Dakin Dairy Farm

According to Matt Lussier, treasurer of the board of Florida Dairy Farmers, around 50 dairy farms operate in Florida.

"The Dakin family has a long tradition in Florida dairy farming," said Lussier, adding he wishes Jerry the best of luck moving forward.

"There are a lot of different reasons for someone to sell their farm. But each and every time they do, it's a personal decision, because farming is more of a lifestyle than it is an occupation."

I cover health and K-12 education – two topics that have overlapped a lot since the pandemic began.
WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online.