Pennsylvania protects farms in Berks from development, forever protecting 521 new acres

Pennsylvania has protected 2,478 acres on 30 farms in 18 counties from future residential, or commercial development, investing more than $8.9 million in state, county, local and nonprofit dollars in protecting prime farmland for the future. Pennsylvania ends 2022 continuing to lead the nation, having protected 170 farms and 13,069 acres this year.

Governor Wolf increased funding for preserving farms by $5 million in his 2016-17 budget, and since January 2015, the Wolf Administration has invested $273,065,874 in preserving 116,527 acres on 1,416 farms across the state.

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Since 1988, Pennsylvania has protected 6,148 farms and 619,191 acres in 58 counties from future development, investing more than $1.6 billion in our agriculture industry’s ability to feed our families and our economy.

“Protecting prime farmland from development is one of the most important investments we make in our economy, our environment, and our quality of life,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said.

“These farm families, together with every level of government, are investing in guarding their legacies and ensuring that other Pennsylvania families will have food, green spaces, income and jobs in the future.”

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The newly preserved farms are in Adams, Beaver, Berks, Blair, Bucks, Cambria, Chester, Cumberland, Lancaster, Lawrence, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Perry, Tioga, Union, Westmoreland, and York counties.

By selling their land’s development rights, landowners ensure that their farms will remain farms and never be sold to developers. 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 more 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.

Among farms preserved at the State Agricultural Land Preservation Board meeting:

Four farms, including three Adams County standardbred horse farms and Brookhart Farms in Perry County, are federally funded, which will leverage additional funds for future easement purchases.

Sutliff Farms in Northampton County is the second farm preserved by the family and creates a cluster of nine protected farms in the county, which faces pressure from developers because of its prime location close to major markets and transportation.

October 2022: In Berks County, a total investment of $923,414, state – $878,389, county – $45,025: The Mark B. Latshaw Farm, District Twp., a 180-acre crop farm. The David A. Yost Farm, Upper Tulpehocken Twp., a 122-acre crop farm. The Peter A. and LeAnne L. Zettlemoyer Farm, a 59-acre crop and livestock farm.

December 2022: In Berks County, a total investment of $465,060, state – $444,017, county – $21,043: The Robert C. Berger Farm, Upper Bern Township, a 26-acre crop & livestock farm. The Shirley K. and Paul B. Levan, Jr. Farm, Tilden Township, a 59-acre crop and livestock farm. The Mark A. and Tracey L. Snyder Farm, Penn Township, a 35-acre crop farm. The Jeffrey A. and Kathleen A. Updegrove and Oley Township Farm, a 40-acre crop 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 Wolf Administration 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.

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