Friday, August 23, 2019

PA Agricultural Land Preservation Board Protects 40 More Farms In 17 Counties

On August 22, the PA Agricultural Land Preservation Board took action to preserve another 2,760 acres of farmland on 40 farms in 17 counties bringing the total of acres preserved by the program since 1988 to 572,528 in 59 counties.
The 17 counties include: Allegheny, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Bucks, Centre, Chester, Indiana, Lackawanna, Lancaster Lebanon, Lehigh, Mercer, Mifflin, Montgomery, Northampton, and Union.
“Our diversity as a state extends far beyond our people to our geography, our products, our production styles, and the options that our land can be used for,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “It’s important to take pause and consider the implications of transforming farmland into developed land, which is what our state board and hundreds of other administrators and volunteers across the state deliberate on as well. With this meeting, 38 farm families have entered into a covenant that ensures that more than 2,700 acres will remain in production agriculture – a win for all Pennsylvanians for many decades to come.
"Each acre of land comes with the stories of generations of agriculturalists, and now we know that new chapters will be added on those farms in the future,” added Redding.
The farms include Maple Acres farm, owned by Gary McKeown, in Plymouth Meeting, Montgomery County, a produce and flower operation whose preservation is considered by the community as a victory for local agriculture. 
The Weinhofer family purchased a productive crop farm in Northampton County slated for development, which was one of three farms preserved at this meeting. 
Charles Glass’ parents preserved their family farm in 2002, and with this meeting he and wife Samantha preserved their own Indiana County farm. Other farms preserved include fruit, timber, hay, livestock, and crop operations. 
Many families accepted reduced compensation for their easements and several donated their farmland outright.
The PA 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 meeting are allocated to county programs to purchase development rights to preserve farms on county waiting lists.
“I’ve often said that the preservation of farmland is just one step in securing a viable future for agriculture in Pennsylvania,” Redding added. “We need to give farm families the tools they need to succeed today and plan for the future. The components of the PA Farm Bill, which received bipartisan support, aim to do just that. I thank Governor Wolf and the members of the legislature for their work. We’ve already begun to implement some programs, with the rest soon to follow. I look forward to seeing them improve the climate for agriculture and our commonwealth’s food system.”
For more information on the program, visit the PA Agricultural Land Preservation Program webpage.
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