Friday, February 22, 2019

Agriculture: 3,333 Acres In 19 Counties Added To Farmland Preservation Program

On February 21, the state Farmland Land Preservation Board took action to preserve 35 farms covering 3,333 acres across 19 counties.
The 35 farms preserved are in Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Butler, Cambria, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Greene, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mercer, Northampton, Washington, Westmoreland, and York counties.
“Looking at the geographic, ownership, and production diversity of the farms preserved at this week’s meeting, it’s clear that this program has a statewide impact and benefits farm families of all types and at all stages, from those growing their operations to those transitioning to a new generation,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.  “More than $56 million committed for strategically safeguarding our most vulnerable farmland this coming year is an incredible success only made possible because of the commitment of government at all levels, farm families, volunteer county and state board members, and the citizens of Pennsylvania. Together, we have created and sustained a program that is a model for our country.”
The 17-member board approved its highest annual spending threshold in a decade: $38 million approved for 2019 purchases of development rights from farm owners. Additionally, counties certified the highest amount of funding for preservation in twelve years at $18.2 million.
Since the program began in 1988, federal, state, county, and local governments have purchased permanent easements on 5,462 farms totaling 562,920 acres in 59 counties for agricultural production.
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 the Board meeting, and allocated to county programs, will secure the purchase of development rights to preserve farms waiting on the county backlog lists.
In some cases, federal funding helps to preserve these lands. The 2018 Farm Bill provides a significant opportunity to leverage federal funds through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The department will negotiate a cooperative agreement to participate in the federal Agricultural Conservation Easement program in the coming year.
Click Here for a list of farms preserved as a result of this action.
For more information, visit Agriculture’s Farmland Preservation webpage.
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