Tuesday, December 19, 2017

2,093 Acres Of Farmland On 29 Farms Permanently Preserved In PA

The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced the PA Agricultural Land Preservation Board approved conservation easement purchases to protect another 29 farms totaling 2,093 acres in the Commonwealth.
The board preserved farms in 20 counties: Adams, Armstrong, Blair, Bucks, Butler, Chester, Columbia, Dauphin, Fayette, Franklin, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Northampton, Susquehanna, Union, Washington, Westmoreland and Wyoming.
With the acreage preserved last Thursday, Pennsylvania will end have preserved 16,237 additional acres on 197 farms in 2017, according to state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.
“Preserving Pennsylvania’s farmland is as important today as it was nearly three decades ago when the program was conceived,” said Redding. “2017 has been another successful year for safeguarding our best acreage – and our food supply – because of the commitment of farmers and other partners. Along the way, we’ve secured federal funding, advocated for succession planning for owners of preserved farms, and remain the national leader in farmland preservation.”
The Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program identifies properties and slows the loss of prime farmland to non-agricultural uses. It enables state, county and local governments to purchase conservation easements, or development rights, from owners of quality farmland.
Gov. Tom Wolf allocated $40 million for farmland preservation in this year’s state budget – an increase of $8 million that makes the 2017-18 fiscal year the program’s highest-funded in a decade.
Since the program began in 1988, federal, state, county and local governments have invested more than $1.4 billion to preserve 544,892 acres on 5,242 farms in 59 counties for future agricultural production.
The state continues to lead the nation in the amount of farms and farmland preserved for use in production agriculture.
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 $1,725,650 in funds under its most recent cooperative agreement to preserve eight farms totaling 1,652 acres, with the potential for additional funding in 2018.
For more information on the program, visit the Department of Agriculture’s Farmland Preservation Program webpage.
(Photo: Lancasteronline.com.)

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