Livestock & Forage Crops

With the continuation of urbanization encroaching on the agricultural lands of Manatee County it is becoming increasingly important to promote a clear understanding of the economic importance of agriculture in Manatee County.  Agriculture production is second only to tourism in its economic impact on Manatee County. The annual impact of agriculture to the county’s economy is estimated at over $500 million.

This ranks Manatee County in the top Ten Florida Counties for agricultural sales.  Some of the main agricultural industries in Manatee County continue to be vegetable crop production, citrus production, livestock and forage production, ornamental horticulture, the commercial fishing industry, and forest products.

Areas of Expertise and Service to Manatee County:

  • Animal Science
  • Agronomy
  • Fertilization and herbicide use and application
  • Irrigation
  • Insect and disease control
  • State regulations
  • Nuisance animals
  • County Fair livestock programs

Click to view the Livestock & Forage Crops page on the University of Florida IFAS Manatee County Extension Website.

For more information, please contact:
Christa Kirby
Livestock Agent
(941)722-4524 ext. 1824
[email protected]


The Manatee County Agriculture and Extension Service Soils unit in partnership with the NRCS/USDA and the Manatee Soil and Water Conservation District, assists Manatee County's landowners with conserving their soil, water and other natural resources. The majority of conservation application is accomplished with local partners.

Local, state and federal agencies and policy makers also rely on our expertise. We deliver technical assistance based on sound science suited to a customer's specific needs. Cost shares and financial incentives are available in some cases. Participation in our program is voluntary. Applications are received year round.

Visit the Soils Unit website for more information about USDA/NRCS programs, or contact:

Gail Somodi
Soil Conservation Supervisor
(941) 907-0011 ext 3142
[email protected]


Small Farms & Vegetable Crops

Small Farms

Small farms represent over 90% of all farms in Florida, based on the USDA definition of a small farm as one with up to $250,000 in sales. These farms make about 15% of all farm product sales in Florida. Input from counties throughout Florida indicated the need for small farm educational programs to be developed. Small farmers and allied organizations have identified critical issues facing small farms.

Areas of Expertise and Service to Manatee County:

  • Access to profitable markets 
  • Business skills development
  • Accessible technical information
  • Alternative crops and enterprises

Vegetable Crops

Vegetable production and marketing in Manatee County is a $290 million dollar industry encompassing approximately 30,000 acres and including a variety of crops. The largest acreages are devoted to tomatoes, snap beans, watermelons, cucumbers and potatoes. Other crops include peppers, cantaloupe, squash, oriental vegetables and other minor and specialty crops.

The Manatee County Extension Service, with access to the many resources of the University of Florida, provides assistance to the vegetable industry in many different subject areas.

Check out our new interactive agriculture map here

Areas of Expertise and Service to Manatee County:

  • General vegetable production
  • Vegetable fertilization
  • Vegetable irrigation management
  • Pest management
  • Pesticide licensing information

Click to view the Small Farms & Vegetable Crops page on the University of Florida IFAS Manatee County Extension Website.

For more information, please contact:

Lisa Hickey
Sustainable Food Systems Agent 
(941)722-4524 ext. 1817
[email protected]

Ornamental Plants & Nursery Production

Nurseries in Manatee County grow woody ornamentals, foliage, floral crops and sod with a value of $60 million dollars per year.

Areas of Expertise and Service to Manatee County:

  • Nursery production and management
  • Integrated pest management- biological control
  • Aquatic and other native plants
  • 4-H/Youth horticulture

Click to view the Ornamental Plants & Nursery Production page on the University of Florida IFAS Manatee County Extension Website.

For more information, please contact:
(941) 722-4524 

Community/School Garden Program 

Manatee County's Community/School Garden Program is dedicated to the development and education of new and existing community and school gardens. Through research based methods, professional advice and educational outreach, the Community Gardens Program is devoted to creating successful, functional and socially uplifting garden spaces. We offer assistance with all types of community gardens including vegetable, fruit and pollinator gardens.

For more information please contact:
Community Gardens Program Assistant 
Mack Lessig
(941) 722-4524 ext. 1821
[email protected]