HARRISBURG, Pa. — During the August meeting of the Pennsylvania Agricultural Land Preservation Board, an additional 29 farms in 16 counties were added to the state’s farmland preservation program — totaling 2,857 acres of additional farmland.
Since the program began in 1988, federal, state, county and local governments have invested nearly $1.3 billion to preserve 511,221 acres on 4,830 farms in 57 counties for future agricultural production.
“Twenty-nine farm families have taken the important first step in preserving their farms by safeguarding their land permanently,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “I thank the families for their foresight, as well as the program staff, at all levels of government, who have worked to protect this land.”
The board preserved farms in 16 counties: Berks, Bucks, Butler, Cambria, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lehigh, Mercer, Northampton, Tioga, Washington, Wayne, Wyoming and York.
Western Pennsylvania farms preserved include:
• Butler: The David, Michael and Karen Burgoon farm, a 76-acre crop farm.
• Mercer: The John and James Friede Farm, a 166-acre crop farm.
• Washington: The Craig and Claudia Sweger Farm, a 151-acre crop farm.
The Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program identifies properties at risk of development to slow 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.
Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2015-16 builds on Pennsylvania’s commitment to preserving valuable farmland by approving a $30 million investment through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Fund line item — a $2.5 million, or 9 percent, increase over what is available in the current fiscal year.
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