Pennsylvania Adds 28 Farms, Nearly 2,000 Acres to Nation-Leading Farmland Preservation Program
Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania’s Agricultural Land Preservation Board today safeguarded 1,974 additional acres on 28 farms in 14 counties through the state’s nation-leading farmland preservation program.
“There are people on both sides of the food equation: producers and consumers. They rarely interact but are deeply intertwined,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Without farmers, we would have no farmland, but without the millions of Pennsylvanians who have shown support for our state’s nation-leading farmland preservation program over the past three decades, our best farmland would be lost to development. These investments help to secure a future for agriculture and the world our industry feeds, clothes, and fuels.”
The 28 farms preserved today are in Adams, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Clinton, Cumberland, Franklin, Lancaster, Lawrence, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Union, and Westmoreland counties.
Under Governor Tom 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 696 farms totaling 58,899 acres of prime farmland across Pennsylvania.
Since Governor Robert Casey signed Act 149 into law to create the program in December 1988, federal, state, county and local governments have invested more than $1.4 billion to preserve 559,698 acres on 5,428 farms in 58 counties for future agricultural production. In 2018, the board approved for preservation 185 farms and 14,696 acres in total.
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.