Pennsylvania Preserves 1,519 Acres on 22 Farms Across 11 Counties

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HARRISBURG, PA — The Shapiro Administration recently disclosed that 1,519 acres covering 22 farms across 11 counties have been permanently safeguarded from residential or commercial development. The preservation of these invaluable expanses of farmland, at a cost of over $5.8 million, represents a profound commitment to Pennsylvania’s agricultural future. This gesture ensures that the Keystone State’s farmers have every opportunity to keep our families and economy nourished.

“In the simplest terms, without farms we don’t eat,” expressed Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, underscoring the fundamental importance of this initiative. Noteworthy is Pennsylvania’s unique geographical and infrastructural position, with its rich soil, access to ports, railways, and highways, as well as proximity to 40 percent of the nation’s population. These advantages combine to create a potent engine for the state’s agricultural future.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a distinguished history of preserving its fertile lands. Since 1988, when the creation of the Farmland Preservation Program saw an overwhelming public approval, the state has protected an impressive 6,336 farms and 634,375 acres in 58 counties from future development. This initiative has witnessed an inflow of over $1.69 billion, demonstrating the commitment of state, county, and local funds to safeguard our food security.

The preservation takes a partnership approach, counting county and sometimes local governments and nonprofits among contributors to the purchase of development rights. This strategic move ensures the long-term viability of farming and food security. By consigning their land’s development rights, farm owners guarantee that their farms will remain as such, effectively staving off the possibility of a corporate buyout.

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Recent examples include two farms in Schuylkill County that will benefit from additional investment through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program. These farms and the land they occupy, part of the Kittatinny Ridge, are crucial not only from an agricultural standpoint but also for the preservation of wildlife habitat and the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

One standout case is the preservation of the Frey farm in Adams County, due to funds bequeathed to the county by the late Tim Brown, a neighboring farmer. The generous donation from Brown, exceeding $500,000, signals the importance of this initiative at the level of the individual farmer.

“Families who sell their land development rights are leaving a legacy that will ensure future Pennsylvania families have green spaces and healthy farmland to produce food, income, and jobs,” said Secretary Redding, lauding Tim Brown for exemplifying the care for the environment shared by numerous Pennsylvania farmers.

The farms and dollars invested in each county present a glance at the future of Pennsylvania’s agricultural landscape, with commitments ranging from $123,589 in Adams County to $1,645,867 in Lehigh County. These purchases further amplify Pennsylvania dollars channeled to conservation initiatives like the $154 million Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program and the Farmland Preservation Program which secured a $7.85 million federal grant.

The protected farms offer more than just a promise of food and economic security; they reflect a vigorous commitment to preserving Pennsylvania’s natural wealth. More than just remaining green open spaces for posterity, these farmlands are the very lifeblood of the state’s future, securing an environment that nurtures both the population and the economy for generations to come.

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