HARRISBURG, Pa. — Today Pennsylvania’s Agricultural Land Preservation Board safeguarded 2,848 additional acres on 39 farms in 19 counties through the state’s nation-leading farmland preservation program. Since 1988, state, federal, and local governments have ensured that 5,675 Pennsylvania farms, covering 579,940 acres, in 59 counties will continue to be farms in the future.
“Our ability to feed a growing world and give consumers the locally-produced food they want is inextricably tied to how well we preserve farmland and protect our abundant natural resources,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Beautiful open spaces, clean water and fertile soil aren’t going to stay just because we want them, but because they provide economic opportunities that meet specific goals: producing food and fiber, giving consumers what they want, and enriching our quality of life.”
Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed budget for 2020 includes a $40 million investment in preserving more farms to safeguard agriculture for the future. At today’s meeting, the state board set the 2020 spending threshold at $43 million, which is the highest amount set aside to preserve farmland since 2007. In addition, county programs have certified $16.4 million in new funding for 2020.
The 40 farms preserved today are in Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Butler, Cambria, Centre, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Huntingdon, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Lycoming, Northampton, Perry, Schuylkill, Union, and Wyoming counties. The farms preserved include crop, beef, livestock, dairy, and poultry operations.
Notable easement purchases from today’s meeting include the Sandra Brzezinski Farm, a 146.89-acre Indiana County crop farm. Brezezinski donated the farm to fulfill her late brother Tom Kepshire’s request that the farm remain in agriculture. She is ensuring her brother’s wishes by preserving it and actively advocating for farmland preservation in her community. The state board will reimburse incidental costs of securing the donation.
Also among the farms preserved today was a 95.26-acre Cumberland County crop farm, owned by Rose Dillner, which includes the Benjamin Blythe Homestead. Blythe, was one of the first settlers in western Cumberland County. The homestead is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Blue Rock Farm, a 90.17-acre farm in Bucks County was preserved using state, county, municipal funds combined with private funding from Heritage Conservancy. Farmland preservation program thrives on strong partnerships among all levels of government and non-profits like Heritage Conservancy.
A full list of farms preserved:
The McConnell Farm #1, a 46.07-acre crop farm
The Edward L. and Karen S. Pflugh Farm #2, a 51.16-acre beef operation
The James H. Spiker Farm #3, a 50.84-acre beef operation
The Donna M. Davis Farm, a 91.2-acre crop farm
The Neil E. and Doris M. Hoffman Farm #2, a 15-acre crop farm
KnK Investments, LLC, a 30-acre crop farm
The Elmer L. and Beryl A. Schrack Farm #1, a 48-acre crop farm
Blue Rock Farm, a 90-acre crop farm
The Nicholas Lykon & Robin McGinnis-Lykon Far, a 71-acre crop farm
Greenspace Land, Inc. Farm #1, a 36-acre crop farm
Greenspace Land, Inc. Farm #2, a 34-acre crop farm
The Ronald R. and Carol J. Kennedy Farm #2, a 52-acre crop farm
The Sandra A. Brzezinski Farm #1, a 147-acre crop farm
The J. Roy Campbell Farm #1, an 82-acre crop farm
The Galen G. and Katherine M. McWilliams Farm, a 100-acre crop farm
The Teresa Maxwell Farm, a 63.93-acre crop farm
The Sebastian Estate, a 68-acre crop farm
The Rose Dillner Farm, a 95-acre crop farm
The Pennsylvania Agriculture Education Center, a 123-acre crop farm
The Nancy, Virginia, Franklin and John Groff Farm #1, a 172.07-acre crop farm
The Robert B. and Patricia S. Metz Farm, a 101-acre livestock farm
The David K. and Ruthie L. Blank Farm, a 68-acre dairy operation
The Bryan L. and Julene E. Harnish Farm, a 95-acre crop farm
The Frederick H. and Grace T. Hess Farm, a 32-acre crop farm
The Frederick H. and Grace T. Hess Farm #2, a 49-acre crop farm
The Loren L. and Lisa Dawn Martin Farm, a 25-acre crop farm
The Martha K. Smucker Farm, a 50-acre crop farm
Wanner’s Family Limited Partnership, a 150-acre dairy operation
The Lester N. and Sharon Ann Zimmerman Farm, a 66-acre crop farm
The Stephen J. and Janeen R. Martin Farm, a 71-acre poultry operation
Upper Macungie Township #2, a 17-acre crop farm
Upper Macungie Township #3, a 30.6-acre crop farm
Leisure Acre Farm Partnership, a 45.48-acre crop farm
Moore Township #4, a 45.57-acre crop farm
The Robert C. Oswald Farm #2, a 50.26-acre crop farm
The Douglas R. and Piper S. Sarver Farm, a 93.78-acre crop and livestock farm
The Craig A. and Theresa E. Luckenbill Farm #1, a 147.73-acre crop farm
F. Ernst Snook and Marie M. Snook Irrevocable Trust, a 181.33-acre crop farm
The Fred J. and Louisa P. Clark Farm, a 62-acre crop and livestock farm
The Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program is dedicated to slowing the loss of prime farmland to non-agricultural uses. Funding allows state, county, and local governments to purchase conservation easements from owners of quality farmland. State, county, local, and federal funds committed at the meeting are allocated to county programs to purchase development rights to preserve farms on county waiting lists.
—PA Dept. of Agriculture