HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Agricultural Land Preservation Board recently added 4,528 acres on 40 farms to the state’s nationally recognized Farmland Preservation Program, Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding said.
The action keeps those lands in agricultural use and protects them from development. The latest farms to be preserved are located in Adams, Berks, Bradford, Bucks, Chester, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Northampton, Lehigh, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montgomery, Northumberland, Perry and Susquehanna counties.
To date, the Farmland Preservation Program has preserved 441,297 acres on 4,056 farms. Both figures are the highest of any state in the nation.
“Pennsylvania is a national leader in farmland preservation because our landowners are willing to make the enduring decision to keep valuable farmland in agricultural production forever,” said Redding. “In addition, the farmland preservation program could not work without support from townships, county and federal partners, who help ensure agriculture will continue to be a part of our communities and our lives for many generations.”
The state’s farmland preservation program works through the Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program, which was developed in 1988 to help curb the loss of prime farmland to non-agricultural uses.
The program enables state, county and local governments to purchase conservation easements, also called development rights, from owners of quality farmland. With this purchase of development rights, farm owners create an agreement whereby the land will forever remain in production agriculture, regardless of who may later own or work the land.
The easement purchases approved recently represent a $13.5 million total investment of state, county and township funds. Since the program’s inception, state, county and local governments have invested more than $1 billion to preserve farms.
The state agriculture department recently hosted a roundtable discussion about energy production on preserved farms, including gas rights leasing and solar, wind and biomass energy production.
Information about Pennsylvania’s nation-leading farmland preservation program and a downloadable version of the 2009 Annual Farmland Preservation Report is available at www.agriculture.state.pa.us by searching “Farmland Preservation.”