Small Dairy Farm Owners: Stewart Family Business Has Unclear Future

Emily Graven

Greene County, Georgia is home to the Double S Dairy farm. This farm has been in the Stewart family since 1940 and is currently in its third generation of ownership.

Ken Stewart owns Double S Dairy and has been the sole owner since he took it over for his father in 1995. An extreme amount of work goes into owning and running a dairy farm. Which is one of the main reasons that so many are closing their doors.

Stewart graduated from the University of Georgia in 1987 with a major in Dairy Science because he said, “I grew up doing it all my life so I didn’t know any other way.” Stewart always knew he would take over the family farm.

But he doesn’t believe this will remain true for his children as neither of them want to pursue the dairy business. Dairy farming is an all day, every day job. He mentioned, “It’s pretty much 24/7, every day, and long hours … on holidays and things like that, you’re not off, you’re always on call.”

Small dairy farmers, like Stewart’s, are running into hardships, since big corporations are taking over the dairy industry. Bigger companies can charge less for milk from dairies and this is creating turmoil for the struggling small dairies.

The milk prices are really awful and have been that way for about three or four years. That’s been a struggle … The dairies now are getting bigger and bigger, I think this is it,” said Stewart.

Dairy farming is a labor extensive and time-consuming job. Since milk prices have not gone up, it is easy to see why many of them keep closing.

Stewart is unsure concerning the future of Double S Dairy. Especially since there were 12 dairies in Greene County alone a few years ago. Now only seven remain in operation. Stewart attributes the closures to the dairy prices and corporations buying out dairies. “The big ones are getting bigger and the small ones are going out, we don’t have the volume to compete with the bigger ones.”

When asked what he thinks will happen in the future for Double S Dairy, Stewart said, “It’s sort of sad but that’s just the way it is. I’m just taking it one year at a time and just trying to survive it.”

Emily Graven is a senior majoring in journalism in Grady College Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.



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