Pennsylvania has preserved more than 6,000 farms with the latest round of farm purchases.
This week, the state protected 1,969 acres on 26 farms in 12 counties from future development, investing more than $6.4 million in state, county and township dollars.
The approved farm purchases bring the state total to 6,004 farms and 608,091 acres of prime farmland that will be forever protected from commercial, industrial or residential development, according to the state Department of Agriculture.
“Pennsylvania farmers face tremendous pressure to sell their valuable land to developers,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “Many of these families have farmed through generations of hardships and uncertainty, but they are committed to ensuring their legacy continues and Pennsylvania has the resources to feed future generations.
“Pennsylvania is home to some of the most fertile, non-irrigated soil in the nation, and we have been the most successful of any state in at protecting our prime farmland.” Redding said. This is one of our most important investments in feeding our families and our economy in years to come.”
By selling their land’s development rights, landowners preserve their farms, protecting the land from future residential, commercial or industrial development. Farm families often sell their land at below market value to ensure that it will remain farmland. Pennsylvania partners with county and sometimes local governments and non-profits to purchase the development rights.
The State Agricultural Land Preservation Board also set the 2022 spending threshold at $38 million. County programs set aside $15.9 million in local funds to spend on preserving farms in 2022.
The 26 farms preserved are in Berks, Blair, Chester, Dauphin, Fayette, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Mercer, Northampton, Schuylkill and York counties.
Notable farms preserved include:
The Leon and Linda Burkholder Farm, a 70.6-acre crop and livestock farm in Maxatawny Township, Berks County, is classified by the USDA as nearly all prime farmland soils, the best for producing food. The farm is adjacent to two other preserved farms and within two miles of thirty-four others.
Kenneth D. Myer Farm, a 133.77-acre crop and heifer operation in Mount Joy Township, Lancaster County, is a well-managed, highly productive farm bordering an area designated in the county’s comprehensive plan as an Urban Growth Area. The farm will add to an 800-acre block of preserved farmland in the vicinity, ensuring that agriculture will thrive for generations.
The Ronald Carkin Farm, a 77.39-acre crop and beef operation in Sandy Township, Mercer County, officially the program’s 6,000th farm preserved, is in a portion of the Greater Pittsburgh region that is experiencing significant residential development pressures. The farm is close to the Lake Wilhelm, part of the Maurice K. Goddard State Park.
Other farms preserved include:
Berks County – Total investment $643,649 state; $135,900 county
The Leon and Linda Burkholder, and Aaron W. Nolt Farm, a 71-acre crop and livestock farm
The Ammon N. and Edna S. Leid Farm, a 60-acre crop and livestock farm
The Daniel H. & Kristine W. Schuler Farm #2, a 126-acre crop farm
The Richard C. Wolf Farm, a 33-acre crop farm
Dauphin County – Total investment $135,300, state only
The Laurie Myers Farm, a 90-acre crop and livestock farm
Lancaster County – Total investment $1,232,111 state, $594,832 county, $113,000 townships
The Wayne S. and Brenda L. Baum Farm, a 16-acre dairy farm
The Christopher S. and Bethany G. Harnish Farm #1, a 46-acre crop farm
The Christopher S. and Bethany G. Harnish Farm #2, a 48-acre crop farm
The Galen C. Martin Farm, a 56-acre crop farm
John E. & Linda M. Shenk Farm, a 35-acre crop and livestock farm
Eli L. & Sadie S. Stoltzfus Farm, a 37-acre dairy farm
The Kenneth D. Myer Farm, a 132-acre crop and livestock farm
The Thomas E. & Lindsey A. Nauman Farm, an 87-acre crop and livestock farm
The Gerald M. & Lorene N. Nolt Farm, an 88-acre crop and livestock farm
Lehigh County – Total investment $347,099 state, $328,871 county
The Cole Jason Moyer and Roseanna Moyer Farm, a 116-acre crop farm
Northampton County – Total investment $1,155,405 state only
The Eric F. and Milissa L. Smith Farm, a 77-acre crop farm
The Roger C. and Trudy P. Unangst Farm, a 68-acre crop farm
York County – Total investment $4,662 state, $305,040
The Kenneth R. Snyder Jr. and Debra D. Snyder Farm #2, a 102-acre crop farm