CENTRAL TEXAS — The pandemic and February's winter storm proved to be tough obstacles for some agriculture industries, but not for one local dairy farm. Robert Johnson, owner of Triple S Dairy, said while some grocery stores were having trouble getting milk from their suppliers, the farm was having the opposite problem.
"Actually, we saw an increase in our sales," Johnson said.
There was a period during the pandemic last year where bigger milk suppliers were unable to get their trucks to stores. With those supply chains being broken, shelves in the dairy section were going empty. People turned to local farms like Triple S Dairy to get their milk.
"Because there was no milk on the shelves, we actually saw a lot of people coming out here from the local communities that knew about us that would come out and buy our raw milk," said Johnson.
Though the early stages of the pandemic were problematic for some shipping lines, the dairy industry in Texas was able to rebound quickly. Over the past year, Texas dairy has seen rapid growth. The state is now the fifth-highest in the nation in dairy production. Dairy farms account for about $50 billion in statewide economic impact.
Dairy from Triple S isn't something you can find at your corner store. The farm produces raw milk, meaning it is unpasteurized milk that can only be legally sold on the farm. Johnson says the farm was definitely the place to be during the winter storm.
"During the storm, for instance. That was a big time for us," remarked Johnson.
Johnson's dairy herd consists of just seven cows. The smaller operation couldn't keep up with the customer demand.
"We wouldn't even get the milk in the fridge," Johnson said. "We would be able to bottle the milk, and then there were customers right there waiting in line to buy it from us."
Triple S Dairy wasn't hit as hard by the storm as some crop farmers, although they did have difficulty keeping their milk pumps from freezing. With sunnier days ahead, Johnson hopes to soon provide the community with even more goods.
"We actually hope to be able to get from just selling raw milk and the raw milk products, to be able to increase into, expanding into different areas such as fruits and vegetables," said Johnson.
For the time being, Triple S Dairy will continue to provide the same quality raw milk that people have come to expect. Johnson's story is another example of how local farmers have stepped up to help their communities in times of need.