Thursday, June 7, 2018

Pennsylvania Preserves 550,000th Acre Of Farmland

Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding Thursday announced the state has hit a major milestone, preserving 550,000 acres of farmland in the Commonwealth over the last three decades.
“By investing our energy and resources in protecting Pennsylvania’s farmland, we are not simply investing in commodities; we’re investing in people and the future of agriculture and our ability to grow food,” said Secretary Redding. “Today’s landmark achievement represents a commitment to our agribusinesses, a commitment to our food system, a commitment to our communities, and a commitment to the future of the Commonwealth.”
The Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program 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.
Since the Commonwealth’s program began in 1988, federal, state, county, and local governments have purchased permanent easements on 5,329 farms totaling 552,703 acres in 58 counties for agricultural production.
Under Gov. Wolf, funding for farmland preservation has increased more than 45 percent, or $12.5 million. Since taking office, the Wolf administration has preserved 597 farms totaling 50,039 acres of prime farmland across Pennsylvania.
At Thursday’s event, which celebrated the safeguarding of 550,000 acres, also recognized Lehigh County for its 30 years of participation in the program.
Secretary Redding also presented the owners of Heidel Hollow Farms, Inc., with two bicentennial awards. The Bicentennial Farm Program was created in 2004 to recognize farms that have been in the same family for 200 years or more.
To date, the Department of Agriculture has recognized 2,026 Century and 180 Bicentennial farms, representing 2,206 families dedicated to both their heritage and production agriculture.
Purchasing easements is a critical investment in Pennsylvania’s robust agricultural industry, an investment that protects agriculture’s $135.7 billion total economic impact and ensures future food supply production for a growing population.
Since the program’s inception, total county contributions have exceeded the half-billion-dollar mark, and state contributions have surpassed $1 billion.
For more information, visit Agriculture’s Farmland Preservation Program webpage.

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