HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania protected 2,264 acres on 32 farms in 18 counties from future development, investing nearly $8.2 million in state, county and local dollars to ensure that prime farmland is not lost to development. This brings Pennsylvania’s total to 6,076 farms and 613,884 acres in 58 counties, now forever protected from commercial, industrial or residential development. Pennsylvania continues to lead the nation in the number of preserved farms, investing more than $1.6 billion since 1988 to protect the state’s valuable farmland.
The 32 newly preserved farms are in Berks, Bucks, Centre, Chester, Cumberland,
Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Lycoming, Mifflin, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Perry, Schuylkill, Washington and York counties.
“Saving farmland protects the beauty and productivity of our state, the health of our environment, the vitality of our economy, and our ability to feed a growing population,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “It is not only one of the most important investments our state, federal and local governments make together, it is a priority we all agree on.”
By selling their land’s development rights, landowners preserve their farms, protecting land from future residential, commercial or industrial development. Farm families often sell their land at below market value to ensure that it will remain farmland forever. Pennsylvania partners with county and sometimes local governments and non-profits to purchase development rights, ensuring a strong future for farming and food security.
Pennsylvania has a long-standing partnership with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program — the first of its kind — which has invested more than $16 million to date to implement measures on farms to improve water and soil quality in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
Gov. Tom Wolf’s $1.7 billion planOpens In A New Window to help Pennsylvania recover from the COVID-19 pandemic would further extend these investments. The plan devotes $450 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars to support conservation, recreation, and preservation efforts including farmland preservation.
Notable farms preserved at today’s PA Land Preservation Board meeting include:
The Nancy A. and Webb C. Miller Farm in Ferguson Township, Centre County is one of three partially forested farms being donated to the program this month. Many preserved farms include valuable woodlots, which provide wildlife habitat, storing carbon and renewing groundwater.
Aaron Ezra and Gary H. Eby in East Earl Township, Lancaster County are the sixth generation of the Eby family to farm this land. Preserving the farm will ensure the family’s farming legacy for generations to come.
W. Darren and Suzanne K. Marsteller’s farm in Hopewell Township, York County is in an area under intense development pressure as a bedroom community for Baltimore. Local officials have worked hard to protect area farmland, with 4,431 acres enrolled in the township’s Agricultural Security Area, a prerequisite for selling the development rights to preserve a farm.
Drew M. and Kimberly S. Cowden raise purebred Shorthorn cattle for show, in Hopewell Township, Washington County, marketing in fifteen states and Canada in recent years.
Farms preserved today and dollars invested, by county:
Berks County – Total investment $603,159 state, $148,150 county
The Allen P. and Mary J. Grube Farm, Centre Township, a 132.7-acre crop farm
The Kathy Levan Farm, Oley Township, a 163.6-acre crop farm
Bucks County – Total investment $931,552 state, $574,467 county, $58,240 non-profit
The Peter E. Bennett and Jean V. Nevins Farm, Springfield Township, a 60-acre dairy farm
Plumstead Acquisitions LLC, Plumstead Township, a 68-acre dairy farm
Centre County – Total investment $210,609 state, $1 county, $1 township
The Nancy A. and Webb C. Miller Farm, Ferguson Township, an 84-acre crop farm
Chester County – Total investment $264,402 state only
The Jacob Lantz Farm, Honey Brook Township, a 56.6-acre crop, horse and beef farm
Cumberland County – Total investment $234,808 state, $75,000 county
The Steven W. and Thomas H. Nealy Farm #5, North Newton Township, an 82-acre crop farm
Dauphin County – Total investment $76,695 state only
The Loretta L. and James L. Long, Jr. Farm, Wayne Township, a 51-acre crop farm
Lancaster County – Total investment $819,962 state, $180,569 county
The Aaron Ezra and Gary H. Eby Farm, Earl Township, a 52-acre dairy farm
The Matthew R. Hess Farm, Strasburg Township, a 35-acre crop and beef farm
The Stephen S. and Anna M. King Farm #2, Colerain Township, a 49.6-acre crop farm
The Park H. and Sheila A. Ranck Farm, Strasburg Township, a 39.7-acre crop farm
The Abram M. and Anna M. Stoltzfus Farm, Salisbury Township, a 66-acre crop farm
The Troy S. and Nicole M. Wenger Farm, Rapho Township, a 57.8-acre crop farm
Lebanon County – Total investment $222,891 state, $67,224 county
The Donald L. and Sharon L. Bollinger Farm, Millcreek Township, a 114-acre crop and poultry farm
Lehigh County – Total investment $119,203 state, $108,930 county
The Kevin L. Smith #5 Farm, Washington Township, a 36.3-acre crop farm
Lycoming County – Total investment $59,602 state, $6,304 county
The Lynn R. Lunger Farm, Franklin Township, a 50.4-acre crop farm
Mifflin County – Total investment $147,514 state, $15,250 county
The Irvin R. Fleming Family Irrevocable Trust Farm, Kathryn M. Fleming, trustee, Menno Township, a 117.3-acre crop farm
Monroe County – Total investment $162,249 state only
The Christopher Schmidt Farm #2, Polk Township, a 27-acre crop farm
Montgomery County – Total investment $181,871 state, $2,013 county, $27,615 township
The New Goshenhoppen United Church of Christ Farm #2, Upper Hanover Township, a 20-acre crop and beef farm
Northampton County – Total investment $379,007 state, $569,954 county, $317573 township
The Floyd G. and Doris J. Brewer Farm, Lower Mt. Bethel Township, a 53.9-acre crop farm
The Jeffrey A. and Kevin M. Brewer Farm #3, Lower Mt. Bethel Township, a 44.9-acre crop farm
The James Folk Farm, Washington Twp., a 51.9-acre crop farm
The Arnell D. and Gordon J. Mann, Sr. Farm, Lorie E. Gaugler, trustee, Allen Township, a 54.5-acre crop farm
The Roger Marth Farm, Allen Township, a 29.2-acre crop farm
The Alvin P. and Heidi Messinger Farm, Upper Mt. Bethel Township, a 26-acre crop farm
Perry County – Total investment $46,441 state, $39,837 county
The Dennis R. and Brian R. Cauffman Farm #2, Jackson Township, a 75.9-acre crop and livestock farm
Schuylkill County – Total investment $261,663 state, $35,000
The Halabura Partners Farm, West Brunswick Township, a 143.6-acre crop farm
Washington County – Total investment $348,400 state, $113,863 county
The Drew M. and Kimberly S. Cowden Farm, Hopewell Township, a 149.5-acre crop and livestock farm
York County – Total investment $509,619 state, $265,680 county
The W. Darren and Suzanne K. Marsteller Farm #1, Hopewell Township, a 113-acre crop farm
The Kenyon L Miller Farm #1, East Hopewell Township, a 70.7-acre crop and livestock farm
The Mary F. Sterner Farm, Larry W. and Michael E. Sterner, trustees, Heidelberg Township, an 86.6-acre crop and livestock farm
To learn more about Pennsylvania’s Farmland Preservation Program and investments in a secure future for Pennsylvania agriculture, visit agriculture.pa.gov. Find recent program highlights in the 2021 Annual Report.
–Shannon Powers, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture