Thursday, February 15, 2024

Agriculture Invests $5.8 Million To Protect 1,519 Acres On 22 Farms From Future Development

On February 15, the Department of Agriculture invested
$5.8 million to protect 1,519 acres on 22 farms in 11 counties from future development ensuring that Pennsylvania farmers will have prime farmland to feed our families and economy in the future.

"In the simplest terms, without farms we don't eat," Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. "Pennsylvania has some of the richest soil in the nation and is situated near ports, railways, interstate highways, and 40 percent of the nation's population – the very people we need to feed. Protecting those economic opportunities and irreplaceable resources for our farmers is one of the most important investments we make as a state."

Pennsylvania leads the nation in preserved farmland. Since 1988, when voters overwhelmingly supported creation of the Farmland Preservation Program, Pennsylvania has protected 6,336 farms and 634,375 acres in 58 counties from future development, investing more than $1.69 billion in state, county, and local funds.

Pennsylvania partners with county, and sometimes local government and nonprofits to purchase development rights, ensuring a strong future for farming and food security. 

By selling their land's development rights, farm owners ensure that their farms will remain farms and never be sold to developers.

Notable among farms preserved this month, two Schuylkill County farms will trigger additional investment of federal dollars through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). 

The farms are along the Kittatinny Ridge, an area rich in farmland and forested land, critical not just for producing food, but for providing wildlife habitat and improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay, and with it, the water supply of the mid-Atlantic region. 

These dollars will be used for preserving farms whose owners have applied for easements but were placed on a waiting list until funds became available.

Also notable, the Frey farm in Adams County was preserved using funds donated to the county by Tim Brown, a neighboring farmer in Mt. Joy township. 

Prior to his death, Brown, a former chair of the Adams County Land Preservation Board, left more than $500,000 to the county to be used to preserve farmland surrounding his farm.

"Farm families who sell their land development rights are leaving a legacy that will ensure that future Pennsylvania families have green spaces and healthy farmland to produce food, income, and jobs," Sec. Redding said. "Tim Brown was passionate about that legacy. He embodied the care of the environment and his neighbors that defines so many Pennsylvania farmers. The Shapiro Administration is proud to continue supporting that legacy and partnering with federal, county, and local government to sustain our future together."  

Click Here for a list of farms preserved.

For more information, visit Agriculture's Farmland Preservation webpage.

Related Article:

-- WeConservePA Now Accepting Applications For Grants For Resource Management Planning For Forest Land In Conservation Easements In Chesapeake Bay Watershed [PaEN]

[Posted: February 15, 2024]  PA Environment Digest]

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