High-quality farmland in 18 Pennsylvania counties will remain in agricultural production thanks to the state’s Agricultural Land Preservation Board which took action Thursday to safeguard 2,412 additional acres on 27 farms through the state’s nation-leading farmland preservation program.
Since the program began in 1988, federal, state, county and local governments have invested more than $1.3 billion to preserve 518,827 acres on 4,919 farms in 57 counties for future agricultural production.
“When we preserve these farms, we’re wisely investing Pennsylvania’s dollars to conserve the best of Pennsylvania agriculture – farms with the best land and farms that are stewards of the environment,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “These farms meet rigorous requirements such as having conservation and nutrient management plans that ensure our land and waterways are healthier for the next generation of Pennsylvanians. Together, we all work to grow a greener Pennsylvania.”
The board approved a $31 million state funding threshold for 2016 easement purchases. Counties across Pennsylvania have certified $14.1 million for farmland preservation in 2016.
Between state and county funding, $45 million will be invested in Pennsylvania farmland in 2016. Additional land will be preserved through nonprofits and bargain sales, where owners of farmland agree to receive less than fair market value for the lands’ development rights.
The board preserved farms in 18 counties: Adams, Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Blair, Chester, Clinton, Columbia, Erie, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mercer, Monroe, Northampton and York.
The PA Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program identifies properties and slows the loss of prime farmland to nonagricultural uses. It enables state, county and local governments to purchase conservation easements, also called development rights, from owners of quality farmland.For more information, visit Agriculture’s Farmland Preservation webpage.