Wolf Administration Protects Additional 40 Farms, More Than 2,600 Acres through Nation-Leading Farmland Preservation Program
Harrisburg, PA – On behalf of Governor Tom Wolf, state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced that Pennsylvania’s Agricultural Land Preservation Board yesterday safeguarded 2,609 more acres on 40 farms in 17 counties for agricultural production now and in the future.
“Yesterday we preserved dairy, beef, crop, and other farms – all examples of the diversity of production in our agriculture industry,” said Redding. “No matter the differences in production styles or backgrounds or regions of our commonwealth, those farmers share a commitment to their communities, their families, and our food supply. In turn, we make this covenant with them, ensuring that their prime land will always supply food for Pennsylvanians and a growing world.”
The 41 farms preserved today are found in Adams, Allegheny, Blair, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Perry, Schuylkill, Tioga, Union, and Westmoreland counties. Since the commonwealth’s program began in 1988, federal, state, county, and local governments have purchased permanent easements on 5,399 farms totaling 557,613 acres in 59 counties.
Under Governor Wolf, funding for farmland preservation has increased more than 45 percent, or $12.5 million, which means $40 million is available for the program this fiscal year, Redding added. Since taking office, the Wolf administration has preserved 668 farms totaling 54,951 acres of prime farmland across Pennsylvania.
In some cases, federal funding helps to preserve these lands. In 2016, the department signed a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service that allows Pennsylvania’s program to submit farms for consideration by the federal Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. The department secured more than $2 million under its most recent cooperative agreement to preserve eight farms totaling 1,097 acres.
The Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program, as it is formally known, is dedicated to slowing the loss of prime farmland to non-agricultural uses. Funding allows state, county, and local governments to purchase conservation easements, from owners of quality farmland. State, county, local, and federal funds committed at today’s meeting, and allocated to county programs, will secure the purchase of development rights to preserve farms waiting on the county backlog lists.