HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania protected 2,046 acres on 24 farms in 10 counties from future development, investing nearly $7.5 million in state, county, local and nonprofit dollars to ensure that prime farmland is not lost to development. Pennsylvania has now protected 6,118 farms and 616,713 acres in 58 counties from future commercial, industrial or residential development.
The newly preserved farms are in Berks, Bucks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Wyoming and York counties.
“Every dollar spent protecting prime farmland from development is an investment in our economy, our environment, our quality of life, and our ability to feed Pennsylvania’s families and economy,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “Preserving land resources is one of the most important investments we make together, across every level of government, hand in hand with farm families investing to guard their legacy of daily hard work and sacrifice to feed us all.”
By selling their land’s development rights, landowners ensure that their farm will remain a farm and never be sold for residential, commercial or industrial development. Farm families often sell their land at below market value, donate additional land, or agree to conservation practices on their farms in order to leverage additional federal and state money to preserve more family farms.
Pennsylvania partners with county and sometimes local governments and non-profits to purchase development rights, ensuring a strong future for farming and food security and leading the nation in the number of preserved farms. Since 1988, Pennsylvania has invested more than $1.6 billion to protect open, green spaces and food production for the future.
Notable farms preserved at today’s PA Land Preservation Board meeting include:
John M. and Kathryn A. Hunsberger’s farm in Bucks County is scenic and highly visible from the road. The prime location is coveted by residential developers who will pay top dollar for the land. The Hunsberger’s easement purchase will ensure that the 62-plus acres remain green space and productive farmland.
Robert and Laura Faux’s Wyoming County crop and cattle farm has been in their family for generations. The property’s original barn predates the Civil War, features hand-hewn beams and is still in use.
John W. Marsteller Jr.’s York County crop farm is the third farm preserved by the family, bringing the family’s total protected land to more than 1,400 acres. Southern York County is experiencing intense residential development pressure as a bedroom community for Baltimore commuters.
Farms preserved today and dollars invested, by county:
Berks County – Total investment – $923,414, state – $878,389, county – $45,025
The Mark B. Latshaw Farm, District Twp., a 180-acre crop farm
The David A. Yost Farm, Upper Tulpehocken Twp., a 122-acre crop farm
The Peter A. and LeAnne L. Zettlemoyer Farm, a 59-acre crop and livestock farm
Bucks County – Total investment – $1,395,440, state – $585,600, county -$558,600, township -$528,775, nonprofit – $62,810
The Jeffrey L. and Darlene M. Heackock Farm, Bedminster Twp., a 30-acre crop farm
The John M. and Kathryn A. Hunsberger Farm, Bedminster Twp., a 63-acre crop farm
Cumberland County – Total investment – $467,204, state – $9,347, county – $117,532, township – $340,325
The Thomas D. Moyer Farm #1, Silver Spring Twp., a 118-acre crop farm
Dauphin County – Total investment – $832,861, state only
Bechtel Farms, Halifax, a 123-acre crop farm
The Eli L. and Sadie M. King Farm, Mifflin Twp., a 93-acre crop and livestock farm
The John Neagley Farm, Washington Twp., a 165-acre crop farm
The Darryl Rode Farm, Halifax, a 62-acre crop farm
The Gerald F .and Linda K. Wiest Farm #2, Lykens, a 39-acre crop farm
Lancaster County – Total investment – $1,574,265, state only
The Benjamin Joel and Alisha Danae Nissley Farm, Mt. Joy, a 130-acre crop and livestock farm
The Fred L. and Connie L. Ranck Farm #1, Strasburg, a 33-acre crop farm
The Fred L. and Connie L. Ranck Farm #2, Strasburg, a 111-acre crop farm
The Matthew K. and Kelly L. Wiker Farm, Martic Twp., a 123-acre crop farm
Lehigh County – Total investment – $366,371, state – $356,371, county – $5,000, township – $5,000
The Michael G. and Karin M. Bowman Farm, Heidelberg Twp., a 26-acre crop farm
The Adam B. and Amanda L. Dietrich Farm, Lynn Twp., a 44-acre crop farm
Montgomery County – Total investment – $281,181, state – $278,471, county – $2,710
The Gregory H. Moser Farm #1, Douglass Twp., a 30-acre crop farm
Northampton County – Total investment – $466,534, state – $21,777, county – $227,100, township – $197,657
The Moore Township #5 Farm, a 43-acre crop farm
The Walter M. Jr. and Melody A. Schlegel Farm, Plainfield Twp., a 40-acre crop farm
Wyoming County – Total investment – $155,763, state – $92,381, county – $63,382
The Robert and Laura Faux Farm #1, a 77-acre crop and livestock farm
York County – Total investment – $1,001,978, state – $775,583, county – $226,395
The Robert B. and Judy K. Burchett Farm #4, Chanceford Twp., a 104-acre crop farm
The Lydia M. Manifold Farm #2, East Hopewell Twp., an 84-acre crop farm
The John W. Marsteller, Jr. Farm #1, Hopewell Twp., a 149-acre crop farm
Pennsylvania’s Farmland Preservation Program recently secured a $7.85 million grant from the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program to support climate-smart conservation on preserved Pennsylvania farms.
The dollars will further multiply the Wolf Administration’s investments in conservation in the 2022-’23 budget, which devotes $220 million to the new Clean Streams Fund. The fund includes $154 million to establish a new Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program supporting farmers’ efforts to reduce water pollution and improve soil quality, and $22 million to increase funding for the existing Nutrient Management Fund, which supports technical assistance to farms to reduce run-off.
—Shannon Powers, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture