HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s Agricultural Land Preservation Board safeguarded 2,359 additional acres on 26 farms in 13 counties through the state’s nationally renowned farmland preservation program.
The board preserved farms in Berks, Butler, Chester, Crawford, Cumberland, Erie, Juniata, Lancaster, Lycoming, Northampton, Perry, Union and York counties.
Since the program began in 1988, federal, state, county and local governments have invested more than $1.2 billion to preserve 486,628 acres on 4,558 farms in 57 counties for future agricultural production.
The board approved at the meeting a $30 million state funding threshold for 2014 easement purchases. Counties across Pennsylvania have certified $16.6 million for farmland preservation in 2014.
The Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program identifies properties and slows the loss of prime farmland to nonagricultural uses.
It enables state, county and local governments to purchase conservation easements, also called development rights, from owners of quality farmland. In some cases, the federal Farm and Ranchlands Protection program provides additional assistance.
Last fiscal year, Pennsylvania received $4.2 million in federal reimbursements.
A list of the western Pennsylvania farms preserved follows:
• Butler: The Steven Lange farm, a 117.86-acre crop and livestock operation
• Crawford; The Christopher D. and Nikki L. Shearer farm, a 200.61-acre crop and livestock operation
• Erie; The Josephine Byham farm #1, a 147.06-acre crop farm.