Thursday, June 11, 2020

Agriculture Preserves 48 New Farms, 4,432 Acres; Urbanization Threatens Agricultural Lands

On June 11, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced an investment of $11.9 million in food security by safeguarding 4,432 acres on 48 farms in 25 counties through the state’s nation-leading Farmland Preservation Program
County governments invested an additional $2 million in the farms preserved today, bringing the total investment to $13.9 million.
“Agricultural development and farmland preservation are inextricably tied to food security and nutrition, it’s critical to increasing the quantity and diversity of food and driving economic transformation,” said Secretary Redding. “The acreage preserved today is an act of looking to the future food needs of Pennsylvanians, the nation, and the world. COVID-19 has placed a microscope on the availability of food, our most basic need. Preserving farmland is the first step to ensuring food is available tomorrow.”
The announcement was held in Cumberland County at the 55-acre Deckman Farm, one of the 48 farms preserved by Pennsylvania’s Agricultural Land Preservation Board.
“Pennsylvania continues to lead the nation in the number of farms and acres permanently preserved in agriculture production,” said Cumberland County Commissioner Vince DiFilippo. “Our state must continue to be a leader and to safeguard the investment made to Pennsylvania agriculture.”
According to a 2020 American Farmland Trust report, Farms Under Threat, Pennsylvania lost an alarming 244,000 acres to housing development from 2001 to 2016. This loss was countered by permanently preserving 347,000 acres of farmland during that same time period. 
Since the inception of Pennsylvania’s Farmland Preservation Program in 1988, the state has preserved more than 5,700 farms and 584,000 acres of Pennsylvania’s agricultural land for perpetuity with a more than $1.6 billion investment.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown many Pennsylvanians empty grocery store shelves for the first time in their life, leading to a heightened awareness of where food comes from and how it gets from farm to shelf. 
Access to farmland is vital to food security and meeting demands in both a regular and crisis climate.
In 2019, an agriculture research study funded by the department and conducted by Dr. Thomas Daniels, University of Pennsylvania, found the total economic impact of farmland preservation in Pennsylvania to be valued from $1.8 to $2.9 billion annually. 
The report also concluded environmental benefits of farmland preservation to be estimated at an additional $1.9 billion annually. Through his research, Dr. Daniels found that farmland contributes more in tax dollars than in demands for services.
"Pennsylvania is the leading state in farmland preservation with more than 5,700 preserved farms and 584,000 preserved acres,” said Dr. Daniels, University of Pennsylvania. “Preserved farmland helps support a multi-billion-dollar agricultural industry that is essential for providing long-term food security for the residents of the Commonwealth."
The 48 farms preserved are in Adams, Armstrong, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Columbia, Cumberland, Erie, Franklin, Greene, Lackawanna, Lawrence, Lehigh, Luzerne, Mifflin, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, Somerset, Susquehanna, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland, and York counties. 
The farms preserved include crop, fruit and vegetable, dairy, nursery, beef and livestock operations.
Notable farmland preserved includes 148.86-acre Clayholm Farms, LLC., one of the largest remaining dairy operations in Armstrong County. The Clayholm farm faced hardship during COVID-19 when having to dump their milk due to market loss. The family will be using farmland preservation funds to help offset losses. 
Berks County hit a milestone of 75,000 preserved acres after the preservation of a 68.80-acre crop farm, Son-Rise Farm, LLC.
Woodward Brothers Inc. Farm, located next to the historical site of the Battlefield of Brandywine dating back to the Revolutionary War, preserved a 50.74-acre crop farm in Chester County.
Visit the Department of Agriculture’s Farmland Preservation webpage to learn more about this program.
[Posted: June 11, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

No comments :

Post a Comment

Subscribe To Receive Updates:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner