Pennsylvania protected 784 acres on 18 farms in nine counties from future development Thursday, investing more than $3.166 million in state, county and local dollars to ensure that prime farmland is not lost to development.
Pennsylvania has now protected 6,094 farms and 614,668 acres in 58 counties from future commercial, industrial or residential development.
The 18 newly preserved farms are in Berks, Centre, Chester, Erie, Lebanon, Lehigh, Northampton, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
“Preserving farmland is an investment in our economy, our environment, our quality of life, and our future food security,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “We’re proud of that investment and we owe these farm families a debt of gratitude for making a decision that guards their family legacies and benefits all of Pennsylvania.”
By selling their land’s development rights, landowners ensure that their farm will remain a farm and never be sold for residential, commercial or industrial development.
Farm families often sell their land at below market value, donate additional land or agree to conservation practices on their farms in order to leverage additional federal and state money to preserve others’ family farms.
Pennsylvania partners with county and sometimes local governments and non-profits to purchase development rights, ensuring a strong future for farming and food security and leading the nation in the number of preserved farms.
Since 1988, Pennsylvania has invested more than $1.6 billion to protect open, green spaces and food production for the future.
In Berks County, the state made a investment of $157,936, $24,150 county with The Sharon P. Cameron Farm, Centre Township, a 31-acre crop farm and The David L. and Linda J. Nirschl Farm, Penn Township, a 34-acre crop and livestock farm.
Pennsylvania’s Farmland Preservation Program recently secured a $7.85 million grant from the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program to support climate-smart conservation on preserved Pennsylvania farms.
The dollars will further multiply the Wolf Administration’s investments in conservation in the 2022-’23 budget, which devotes $220 million to the new Clean Streams Fund. The fund includes $154 million to establish a new Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program supporting farmers’ efforts to reduce water pollution and improve soil quality, and $22 million to increase funding for the existing Nutrient Management Fund, which supports technical assistance to farms to reduce run-off.