On April 16, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Reading announced that the state’s Agricultural Land Preservation Board safeguarded 2,793 more acres on 27 farms during its recent meeting.
“The farms preserved today exemplify our diverse production agriculture industry – each is unique in the products it grows and the people who call it home,” said Redding. “Our work to protect these farms represents targeted investments in the security of our food supply and the quality of our environment. They’re made possible because of the commitment of farmers to preserving their operations, who in turn use the funding to invest in the future of their operations and our economy.”
Since the commonwealth’s program began in 1988, federal, state, county, and local governments have purchased permanent easements on 5,297 farms totaling 549,728 acres in 59 counties for agricultural production. Under Governor Wolf, funding for farmland preservation has increased more than 45%, 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 533 farms totaling 44,325 acres of prime farmland across Pennsylvania.
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 $1.7 million under its most recent cooperative agreement to preserve eight farms totaling 1,652 acres, with the potential for additional funding in 2018.
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 today’s meeting, and allocated to county programs, will secure the purchase of development rights to preserve farms waiting on the county backlog lists.
The Kenneth D. and Anne L. Becker farm #1, a 117.4-acre crop and livestock operation
The Irvin M. and Verna M. Ringler farm #1, a 106.6-acre crop farm
The Richard R. and Amy E. Yeager farm #1, a 45.9-acre crop farm
The Deborah B. Moore and Frederick C. Moore, Sr. farm, a 63.38-acre crop farm
The Joseph C., Carolyn M., and J. Dennis Meyer farm, a 54.16-acre crop and livestock operation
The Dennis and Joan Thomson farm #1, a 242.6-acre crop farm
Hutchison Enterprise LLC farm #1, a 128.73-acre crop farm
The Kenneth and Marilyn Umble farm, a 113.17-acre crop and livestock operation
The Matthew M., Sala L. and Stephen L. Walton farm, a 72.22-acre crop farm
The Michael W. Mongera farm #2, a 208.95-acre crop and livestock operation
The Aughey Farm, owned by Richard L. and Susan L. Graybill, a 123.64-acre crop and livestock operation
The Jason Z. and Rhoda H. Martin farm, a 161.11-acre crop and livestock operation
The Ernest W. and Rhonda L. Mast farm, a 180.9-acre crop farm
The Joan R. Sinz farm, a 38.03-acre crop farm
The Leonard and Patricia L. Stewart farm, a 63.53-acre crop and livestock operation
The Daryl L. Alger farm, a 51.68-acre crop farm
The James A. Calhoun farm, a 25.37-acre crop farm
The Dave and Emilie Lobach farm #1, a 30.25-acre crop farm
The Arthur A. and Celia A. Swallow farm, a 22.15-acre crop farm
The Gary and Randi Rinehimer farm #1, a 173.22-acre crop and livestock operation
The Timothy R. and Tammy Leigh Hanna farm, a 160.59-acre crop farm
The Norman H. and Lorraine M. Gundrum farm, a 59.75-acre crop farm
The Clyde C. Messinger farm, a 107.5-acre crop farm
The Jesse P. Poliskiewicz farm, a 75.16-acre crop farm
The John E. and Joyce E. Weiss farm, a 16.23-acre crop farm
The Ronald White farm, a 137.05-acre crop and livestock operation
The Barley Farms LP farm, a 213.56-acre crop farm