Harrisburg, PA – The farms protected at Thursday’s meeting of the Pennsylvania Agricultural Land Preservation Board exemplify the diversity of the state’s agriculture products and the people that grow them, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said.
“Our diversity as a state extends far beyond our people to our geography, our products, our production styles, and the options that our land can be used for,” said Redding. “It’s important to take pause and consider the implications of transforming farmland into developed land, which is what our state board and hundreds of other administrators and volunteers across the state deliberate on as well. With this meeting, 38 farm families have entered into a covenant that ensures that more than 2,700 acres will remain in production agriculture – a win for all Pennsylvanians for many decades to come."
The board preserved 40 farms covering 2,760 acres across 17 counties: Allegheny, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Bucks, Centre, Chester, Indiana, Lackawanna, Lancaster Lebanon, Lehigh, Mercer, Mifflin, Montgomery, Northampton, and Union. Since the program began in 1988, federal, state, county, and local governments have purchased permanent easements on 5,580 farms totaling 572,527 acres in 59 counties for agricultural production.
“Each acre of land comes with the stories of generations of agriculturalists, and now we know that new chapters will be added on those farms in the future,” added Redding.
The farms include Maple Acres farm, owned by Gary McKeown, in Plymouth Meeting, Montgomery County, a produce and flower operation whose preservation is considered by the community as a victory for local agriculture. The Weinhofer family purchased a productive crop farm in Northampton County slated for development, which was one of three farms preserved at this meeting. Charles Glass’ parents preserved their family farm in 2002, and with this meeting he and wife Samantha preserved their own Indiana County farm. Other farms preserved include fruit, timber, hay, livestock, and crop operations. Many families accepted reduced compensation for their easements and several donated their farmland outright.
The Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program, as it is formally known, 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.
These investments in preserving farmland for future production will be further enhanced by investments Governor Wolf signed through the PA Farm Bill. It created the Agriculture Business Development Center to support business planning, marketing, diversification, and transition planning for Pennsylvania farmers. The bill package also included a realty transfer tax exemption for the transfer of preserved farmland to a qualified beginning farmer.
“I’ve often said that the preservation of farmland is just one step in securing a viable future for agriculture in Pennsylvania,” Redding added. “We need to give farm families the tools they need to succeed today and plan for the future. The components of the PA Farm Bill, which received bipartisan support, aim to do just that. I thank Governor Wolf and the members of the legislature for their work. We’ve already begun to implement some programs, with the rest soon to follow. I look forward to seeing them improve the climate for agriculture and our commonwealth’s food system.”
The Steven R., Richard, and Karen Torre farm, a 105.36-acre livestock operation
The Frank B. and Cathleen A. Otto farm #3, a 69.69-acre livestock operation
The David B. Irwin, Nancy I. List, and Curtis and Dorothy Huber farm, a 38.6-acre crop farm
The Adam and Marie Hedbavny farm, a 76.7-acre crop farm
The Marlin and Luann Lauver farm, an 85.3-acre crop farm
The St. Michael’s Church farm, a 60.9-acre crop farm
The K. Wayne and Bonnie Burket farm, a 51.1-acre crop farm
The Matthew T. and Thomas C. Mood farm, a 21.99-acre crop farm
The Ronald and Frank Jr. Connelly farm, a 235.34-acre crop and livestock operation
The John S. and Malinda G. Fisher farm, a 25.08-acre crop farm
The Lamar and Lavon Harnish farm #2, a 41.44-acre crop farm
The Nolan and Nori King farm #1, a 54.73-acre crop farm
The Kevin R. and Robin D. Martin farm, an 89.44-acre crop and livestock operation
The James O. and Joan R. Moore farm, a 39.25-acre crop farm
The Charles F. and Samantha K. Glass farm #1, a 97.97-acre crop farm
The Joseph and Ellie Matechak farm #1, a 29.13-acre crop farm
The Raunlyn Vail farm #1, a 10-acre timber parcel
The Raunlyn Vail farm #2, a 19.18-acre fruit operation
The G. David and Nancy Ginder farm, a 90.07-acre crop farm
The Raymond C. and Elva B. Hurst farm, a 26.8-acre crop farm
The Burnell W. and Mary Jane Nolt farm, a 130.68-acre crop and livestock operation
The Galen L. and Alice M. Nolt farm, a 157.94-acre crop and livestock operation
The James Z. and Lydia M. Sensenig farm, a 94.3-acre crop farm
The Merle D. and Doris Stoltzfus farm, a 90.38-acre crop and livestock operation
The David B. and Christine M. Stull farm, a 21.65-acre crop and livestock operation
The Daniel, Jennifer, Dale, Darren, and Sherri Brubaker farm, a 112.53-acre crop and livestock operation
The Frances L. and Wayne G. Heussman farm #1, a 115.64-acre crop farm
The Frances L. and Wayne G. Heussman farm #2, an 83.87-acre crop farm
The Dale L. and Ellen L. Koplin farm, a 29.65-acre hay operation
The Pamela D. Krause farm #2, a 31.14-acre crop farm
The Kenneth and Leslie J. Mattos farm #2, a 10.64-acre crop farm
The Sterling D. and Doreen B. Reinert farm, a 38.36-acre crop and livestock operation
The Stettler et al farm, a 44.94-acre crop farm
The Hartford Land Investments LLC farm #1, a 153.07-acre crop farm
The A. Fred and Elsie King farm #1, a 115.39-acre crop and livestock operation
The Gary McKeown farm, a 26.28-acre crop farm
The Sarah L. Pagotto Revocable Living Trust farm, a 91.25-acre crop farm
The Clayton III and Stacey Stine farm #2, an 11.06-acre crop farm
The Weinhofer Farms, LLC farm, a 107.58-acre crop farm
The Donna S. Kling farm #1, a 25.44-acre crop farm
To learn more about Pennsylvania’s Farmland Preservation Program, visit agriculture.pa.gov.
MEDIA CONTACT: Shannon Powers - 717.783.2628
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