Northwestern Press

Monday, March 18, 2019

Berks, Lehigh properties, added to farmland preservation program

Wednesday, March 13, 2019 by The Press in Local News

Pennsylvania’s Agricultural Land Preservation Board recently safeguarded 1,974 additional acres on 28 farms in 14 counties through the state’s nation-leading farmland preservation program.

“There are people on both sides of the food equation: producers and consumers.

“They rarely interact but are deeply intertwined,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “Without farmers, we would have no farmland, but without the millions of Pennsylvanians who have shown support for our state’s nation-leading farmland preservation program over the past three decades, our best farmland would be lost to development.

“These investments help to secure a future for agriculture and the world our industry feeds, clothes, and fuels.”

The 28 farms preserved are in Adams, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Clinton, Cumberland, Franklin, Lancaster, Lawrence, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Union, and Westmoreland counties.

Farms preserved include:

Berks County

·Tyler Linc and Rachel Elizabeth Bolton farm No. 1, a 91.8-acre crop farm.

Lehigh County

·Glenn D. and Kathryn L. Frey, 63.03-acre crop farm.

·Terry D. and Tameria A. Haas farm, 15.13 acres.

·Emilie A. and David M. Lobach Jr., an 11.48-acre crop farm.

·Dave and Lois Miles farm, a 42.53-acre crop and livestock operation.

·Kevin A. Schaffer Estate, a 19.22-acre crop farm.

· April M. and Christopher P. Schiel farm, a 13.92-acre equine operation.

Under Gov. Tom Wolf, funding for farmland preservation has increased more than 45 percent, or $12.5 million, which means $40 million is available for the program this fiscal year, Redding added.

Since taking office, the Wolf administration has preserved 696 farms totaling 58,899 acres of prime farmland across Pennsylvania.

Since former Gov. Robert Casey signed Act 149 into law to create the program in December 1988, federal, state, county and local governments have invested more than $1.4 billion to preserve 559,698 acres on 5,428 farms in 58 counties for future agricultural production.

In 2018, the board approved for preservation 185 farms and 14,696 acres in total.

In some cases, federal funding helps to preserve these lands.

In 2016, the department signed a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service that allows Pennsylvania’s program to submit farms for consideration by the federal Agricultural Conservation Easement Program.

The department secured more than $2 million under its most recent cooperative agreement to preserve eight farms totaling 1,097 acres.

The Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program, as it is formally known, is dedicated to slowing the loss of prime farmland to nonagricultural 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 Dec. 13, 2018, meeting, and allocated to county programs, will secure the purchase of development rights to preserve farms waiting on the county backlog lists.

To learn more about Pennsylvania’s Farmland Preservation Program, visit agriculture.pa.gov.