Pennsylvania farms join preservation program

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HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s Agricultural Land Preservation Board accepted 2,509 acres on 32 farms in 16 counties recently through the state’s nation-leading farmland preservation program.

Farms preserved in western Pennsylvania include: The DB Farms LLC, a 191.78-acre crop and livestock operation in Washington County and The Raymond and Dorothy Butz Farm #1, a 91.46-acre crop and livestock operation in Westmoreland County.

The board also preserved farms in 14 additional counties: Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Cumberland, Franklin, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Northampton, Schuylkill, Wayne and York.

Continued viability

Following the board’s meeting, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture hosted a listening session addressing concerns about farm viability, particularly for preserved farms. The afternoon included presentations from the Vermont Land Trust and Farm & Forest Viability Program, Delaware’s Young Farmer Program, and the National Young Farmers Coalition, including Pennsylvania’s farmer representative. It concluded with a roundtable discussion hosted by Kitchen Table Consultants that developed next steps for addressing the issues of farm viability.

“Pennsylvania is home to nearly 4,800 preserved farms, and because our state’s primary farm operators average 56 years old, we’re faced with the reality of many farms turning over even this year,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary for Market and Economic Development Hannah Smith-Brubaker.

“By working with our partners to develop incentives for succession planning and addressing issues of land access, we can start to ensure success for the next generation of Pennsylvania’s producers.”

Since the program began in 1988, federal, state, county and local governments have invested nearly $1.3 billion to preserve 506,761 acres on 4,782 farms in 57 counties for future agricultural production.

How program works

The Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program identifies properties at risk of development to slow the loss of prime farmland to non-agricultural 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 Agricultural Conservation Easement Program provides additional assistance. Last fiscal year, Pennsylvania received more than $541,000 in federal reimbursements.

For more information, visit www.agriculture.state.pa.us and search “farmland preservation.”

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