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At Myakka farm, panelists will discuss future of agriculture in Manatee County

Written by on Tuesday, January 30, 2024

A tomato grower, a cattle rancher and a dairy farmer will share their insights.

By Staff

Manatee County used to have the second-biggest acreage of agricultural land in Florida — most of it cattle grazing land and some crop farming. But the landscape is changing, as suburban sprawl is rolling eastward rapidly.

To shed light on what this means, East Manatee Preservation, a non-profit that educates and engages the community on the importance of agricultural and rural lands, is hosting a panel discussion on the “Future of Agriculture in Manatee County”.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 10, 3 pm, at Dakin Dairy Farms (30771 Betts Road, Myakka).

East Manatee Preservation partnered with one of Florida’s last dairy farms to bring together a panel of local farmers and ranchers who represent the different sectors of the county’s agricultural heritage.

One of the panelists is Jerry Dakin, whose Dakin Dairy Farms also serves as the stage of this event. Dakin recently announced his family is planning to sell the farm, which was hit hard by flooding during Hurricane Idalia last year. The Dakins have been milking cows in Manatee County since 1973, and Jerry purchased the farm and land in 2001. It is the only family dairy farm in Florida that is open to the public and produces and bottles its own milk right on the farm.

Jim Strickland is one of the biggest cattle ranchers in the region. He has six decades of experience with cattle and comes from a family that has been ranching in Florida since the Civil War. Jim is the owner of Strickland Ranch and managing partner of Big Red Cattle Company and Blackbeard’s Ranch, and a former head of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association.

Gary Reeder is the president of the Manatee County Farm Bureau and a fourth-generation tomato producer who has worked for nearly four decades as a grower.

The panelists will share their own experiences in farming over the last few decades, the challenges they continue to face, and ways they have adapted to the ever-changing realities of farming in Florida.

A complimentary wine and cheese tasting is included in the event. The event is free, but you have to register here.


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