Thursday, February 20, 2020

39 Farms, 2,848 Acres Added To Pennsylvania's Farmland Preservation Program

On February 20, the Agricultural Land Preservation Board safeguarded 2,848 additional acres on 39 farms in 19 counties through the state’s nation-leading farmland preservation program. 
Since 1988, state, federal, and local governments have ensured that 5,675 Pennsylvania farms, covering 579,940 acres, in 59 counties will continue to be farms in the future.
“Our ability to feed a growing world and give consumers the locally-produced food they want is inextricably tied to how well we preserve farmland and protect our abundant natural resources,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Beautiful open spaces, clean water and fertile soil aren’t going to stay just because we want them, but because they provide economic opportunities that meet specific goals: producing food and fiber, giving consumers what they want, and enriching our quality of life.”
At the meeting, the state board set the 2020 spending threshold at $43 million, which is the highest amount set aside to preserve farmland since 2007. In addition, county programs have certified $16.4 million in new funding for 2020.
The 40 farms preserved are in Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Butler, Cambria, Centre, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Huntingdon, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Lycoming, Northampton, Perry, Schuylkill, Union, and Wyoming counties. The farms preserved include crop, beef, livestock, dairy, and poultry operations.
Notable easement purchases from the meeting include the Sandra Brzezinski Farm, a 146.89-acre Cambria County crop farm. Brezezinski donated the farm to fulfill her late brother Tom Kepshire’s request that the farm remain in agriculture. 
She is ensuring her brother’s wishes by preserving it and actively advocating for farmland preservation in her community. The state board will reimburse incidental costs of securing the donation.
Also among the farms preserved was a 95.26-acre Cumberland County crop farm, owned by Rose Dillner, which includes the Benjamin Blythe Homestead. Blythe, was one of the first settlers in western Cumberland County. The homestead is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Blue Rock Farm, a 90.17-acre farm in Bucks County was preserved using state, county, municipal funds combined with private funding from Heritage Conservancy. Farmland preservation program thrives on strong partnerships among all levels of government and nonprofits like Heritage Conservancy.
The 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. 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.
For more information, visit Agriculture's Farmland Preservation Program webpage.
[Posted: February 20, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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