The Shapiro Administration recently announced that Pennsylvania preserved 1,336 acres on 18 farms in 13 counties, forever protecting them from residential or commercial development. The investment of more than $3.1 million in state dollars and $433,433 in county dollars to purchase land development rights preserves prime farmland, helping ensure that Pennsylvania farms can continue feeding our families and economy in the future.
Preserving prime farmland is one of the critical investments the commonsense, bipartisan budget Governor Josh Shapiro signed for 2023-24 makes in supporting Pennsylvania farmers. The nearly 6.4% overall increase in the Agriculture Department’s budget is working to amplify farmers’ efforts to conserve land, soil, and water resources by investing in equipment purchases, business planning, and farm management tools they need to innovate and continue to grow.
“Prime farmland and fertile soil are critical not just for feeding our families, but for feeding our economy,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “Pennsylvania farm families who preserve their farms partner with government to ensure that all Pennsylvania families will have green spaces and healthy farmland available to produce food, income, and jobs.”
Pennsylvania leads the nation in preserved farmland. Since 1988, when voters overwhelmingly supported the creation of the Farmland Preservation Program, Pennsylvania has protected 6,284 farms and 630,302 acres in 58 counties from future development, investing more than $1.68 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.
The newly preserved farms are in Berks, Butler, Chester, Crawford, Dauphin, Erie, Franklin, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Westmoreland, and York counties.
In Berks County, a total investment – has been made of $188,545, $76,836 from the state, $111,709 from the county. The Jeffrey C. Bickel Farm, Windsor Township, 66-acre crop farm.
These investments will multiply public dollars invested in conservation initiatives, including the new $154 million Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program, supporting farmers’ efforts to reduce water pollution and improve soil quality, along with Clean & Green tax incentives, Resource Enhancement and Protection dollars, and other conservation funding.
Pennsylvania’s Farmland Preservation Program also secured a $7.85 million federal grant from USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program to support climate-smart conservation on preserved Pennsylvania farms, an investment that will not only improve conservation efforts, but help measure their impact.