Wolf Administration Protects 30 Farms, 2,300 Acres in 16 Counties through Nation’s Leading Farmland Preservation Program
Harrisburg, PA - On behalf of Governor Tom Wolf, state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced today that Pennsylvania’s Agricultural Land Preservation Board permanently preserved 2,303 acres on 30 farms in 16 counties for agricultural production.
“These newly preserved farms represent an investment in the future of our state economy, our environment, and the world’s food supply,” said Redding. “The partnership of state, county, local and federal government working to protect these farms from non-agricultural development combines with the farmers’ commitment to a longstanding tradition of conservation. Together our efforts benefit the common good.”
Since the commonwealth’s program began in 1988, federal, state, county, and local governments have purchased permanent easements on 5,359 farms totaling 555,006 acres in 59 counties for agricultural production.
Under Governor Wolf, funding has increased by more than $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 627 farms totaling 52,342 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 $1.7 million under its most recent cooperative agreement to preserve eight farms totaling 1,652 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, funds committed at this week’s meeting, and allocated to county programs, will secure the purchase of development rights to preserve farms waiting on the county backlog lists.