On December 12, Pennsylvania’s Agricultural Land Preservation Board safeguarded 2,763 additional acres on 30 farms in 16 counties through the state’s nation-leading farmland preservation program. The state board, in partnership with county boards, ended the year by preserving 210 farms (17,817 acres)–the highest number of farms in a decade.
“This collaboration of state, county, local, and federal government combines with the farmer’s commitment to safeguarding our land to help secure a future for agriculture and the world our industry feeds, clothes, and fuels,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Preserved farmland represents an investment in our best agricultural land for not only our state economy, environment, and food supply, but for our generations to come.”
The 30 farms preserved today are in Adams, Blair, Bradford, Bucks, Butler, Chester, Dauphin, Erie, Lancaster, Lehigh, Northampton, Northumberland, Schuylkill, Washington, Westmoreland, and York counties. Since the program began in 1988, federal, state, county, and local governments have purchased permanent easements on 5,637 farms totaling 577,404 acres in 59 counties for agricultural production.
The farms preserved today include crop, equine, fruit and vegetable, vineyard, timber, dairy, horticulture and nursery, and livestock operations.
Notable farmland preserved include the Brad, Beth and Caleb Cooper bicentennial farm from Butler County, a recognized crop farm that has been in the Cooper family since 1796. The family safeguarded the 164-acre operation.
Jeffrey and Donald Buchholz and Joyce Sepulveda preserved their 49.05-acre fruit and vegetable farm in Northeast Township, Erie County. More than 3,000 acres of prime farmland are now protected in Northeast Township, which fronts Lake Erie, supporting the region’s thriving wine industry.
Previously at risk for development, a 171-acre dairy operation owned by Richard and Colleen Shaffer of Bradford County was preserved. The dairy adjoins Wyalusing Borough’s growth area and is also next to another preserved farm.