The state Agricultural Land Preservation Board added several farms recently in Lancaster, Perry and York counties to its farmland preservation program.
A total of 2,014 acres on 26 farms in 14 counties were added. The board also preserved farms in Berks, Blair, Bucks, Cambria, Chester, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Lycoming, Northampton, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
Since the program began in 1988, federal, state, county and local governments have invested more than $1.2 billion to preserve 491,423 acres on 4,612 farms in 57 counties for future agricultural production, the state said in a news release.
"Often the best land for farming is also the best land for development," said Agriculture Secretary George Greig. "By forever safeguarding this land for agriculture use, we're securing a way of life for farm families for generations to come."
In Central Pennsylvania, the following were added:
• Lancaster: The Fred William Jr. and Deborah Ann Linton farm, a 52.43-acre crop and livestock operation in the 1400 block of Kirkwood Pike in Colerain Township; The Frederick G. Weaver farm No. 1, a 52.12-acre crop farm on Black Bear Road in East Drumore and Fulton townships; and the Frederick G. Weaver farm No. 2, a 57.51-acre crop farm in the 800 block of Pilgrims Pathway in East Drumore and Fulton townships.
• Perry: The Todd J. Cauffman farm No. 1, a 130.85-acre crop and livestock operation in Millerstown.
• York: The Ray E. and Jean E. Manifold farm No. 2, a 23.65-acre crop farm at 5409 Hickory Road, Hopewell Township.
The board previously approved a $30 million state funding threshold for 2014 easement purchases. Counties across Pennsylvania have certified $16.6 million for farmland preservation in 2014.
The Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program identifies properties and slows the loss of prime farmland to nonagricultural uses, the release said. It enables state, county and local governments to purchase conservation easements, also called development rights, from owners of quality farmland.
In some cases, the federal Farm and Ranchlands Protection Program provides additional assistance. Last fiscal year, Pennsylvania received $4.2 million in federal reimbursements.