The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced the conservation of 3,047 acres on 32 farms in 21 counties, protecting them from future residential or commercial development. The investment of more than $10 million in state, county, and local dollars preserves prime farmland for the future.
“Protecting prime farmland from development is a critical investment in our economy, our environment, and our quality of life,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “These farm families are forging a partnership with government, investing together in ensuring that future Pennsylvania families will have food, green spaces, income, and jobs.”
Since 1988, Pennsylvania has protected 6,180 farms and 622,238 acres in 58 counties from future development, investing more than $1.6 billion. Pennsylvania leads the nation in preserved farmland.
The newly preserved farms are in Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Butler, Chester, Cumberland, Erie, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lawrence, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montour, Northampton, Somerset, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, and York counties.
By selling their land’s development rights, landowners ensure that their farms will remain farms and never be sold to developers. Farm families often sell their land at below market value, donate additional land, or agree to conservation practices on their farms in order to leverage additional federal and state money to preserve more family farms.
Pennsylvania partners with county and sometimes local governments and non-profits to purchase development rights, ensuring a strong future for farming and food security.
Highlights among farms preserved include:
- The purchase of development rights for Paul and Barbara Weber’s beef and crop farm in Upper Mifflin Township, Cumberland County was funded by federal funds leveraged by previously preserved farms in the county.
- The Eisenhower and Sweitzer families’ York County crop farms support their large beef operation. Preserving these new tracts will build on four prior easement purchases, creating a 1,348-acre contiguous block of preserved farmland. These families have been leaders in preservation in York County and have been instrumental in pushing to strengthen local zoning ordinances to support agriculture.
- David and Julie Hess follow a detailed conservation plan and comprehensive nutrient management plan on their 239-acre, 100-cow dairy operation in Jackson Township in Tioga County. The practices they are following — including crop rotation, no-till, and cover crops – improve farm production and protect natural resources.
Farms preserved and dollars invested, by county:
- Allegheny County– Total investment – $313,230, state only | The Gregory and Kimberly Serakowski Farm, Plum Borough, a 36-acre crop and livestock farm
- Beaver County – Total investment – $225,754, $173,140 state, $52,614 county | The Farin Rae, Albert R., and Carol S. Weltner Farm, Hanover Township, a 54-acre dairy farm
- Berks County – Total investment – $306,620, $251,057 state, $55,563 county | The Robert C. and Ronald C. Ehst Farm, Colebrookdale Township, a 38-acre crop and livestock farm and The Lynn W. Kline Farm, Robeson Township, a 66-acre crop and livestock farm
- Bucks County – Total investment – $816,000, state only | The Soloman Asser and Gabriela Hodara Farm, Durham Township, an 89-acre crop farm
- Butler County – Total investment – $238,152, state only | The David, J. Kradel #2 Farm, Buffalo Township, a 65-acre crop and livestock farm
- Chester County – Total investment – $1,182,20, $37,037 state, $1,145,164 county | The Christian S., Susie K., Benuel F., and Hannah S. Miller Farm, East Nottingham Township, a 91-acre dairy farm, The Arthur Neilson Farm, Pennsbury Township, a 39-acre equine operation, and The Dan F. and Sadie E. Stoltzfus Farm, Honey Brook Township, a 65-acre crop and livestock farm
- Cumberland County – Total investment – $1,202,765, $1,052,765 state, $150,000 county | The Shirley M. Eldris Farm, South Middleton Township, an 85-acre crop farm, The Rock Solid Dairy, LLC, Southampton and North Newton townships, a 160-acre dairy farm, and The Paul C. and Barbara A. Weber Farm, Upper Mifflin Township, a 109-acre crop and livestock farm
- Erie County – Total investment – $127,564, state only | The James W. and Christa T. Kuhl Farm #1, Venango Township, a 71-acre crop farm
- Juniata County – Total investment – $168,207, $124,706 state, and $43,501 county | The Glen. R. Henry Farm #2, Turbett Township, a 109-acre crop and livestock farm, and The Supplee Brothers Farm LLC #2, Walker and Delaware townships, a 40-acre dairy farm
- Lackawanna County – Total investment – $198,016, state only | The Brian Tranovich Farm #1, Greenfield Township, an 85-acre crop and livestock farm
- Lancaster County – Total investment – $1,005,621, $623,121 state, $382,500 county | The Meadow-Vista Farm LP, Conoy Township, a 175-acre crop and livestock farm, and The Nathan L. and Jena R. Umbrell Farm, Mount Joy Township, an 83-acre crop farm
- Lawrence County – Total investment – $156,568, $127,695 state, $28,873 county | The Richard and Penny Kretzer Farm, Washington Township, a 115-acre crop and livestock farm
- Lebanon County – Total investment – $590,160, $403,121 state, $187,040 county | The Lynford and Dorcas Martin Farm, Jackson Township, a 117-acre dairy farm, and The Henry J. and Jane Steiner Farm, Millcreek Township, a 111-acre crop farm
- Lehigh County –Total investment – $726,003, $617,420 state, $98,216 county, $10,366 township | The Elton B. Weaver Farm, Lynn Township, a 15-acre crop farm, and Fadil Farms, Lower Milford Township, a 104-acre crop farm
- Montour County – Total investment – $124,389, $114,389 state, $10,000 county | The Gary L. and Renee V., Glenn A. and Sue E. Hertzler #2 Farm, Limestone Township, a 56-acre crop farm
- Northampton County – Total investment – $1,073,951, $552,150 state, $521,801 county | The Michele G. Charf Farm, Washington Township, a 10-acre crop farm, and The Daniel J. Seiple, Kathryn R. Samuels, and Jane M. Yagerhofer Farm, East Allen Township, an 88-acre crop farm
- Somerset County – Total investment – $251,818, $243,827 state, $7,991 county | Pax-Terra Family Limited Partnership II, Summit Township, a 167-acre crop farm
- Susquehanna County – Total investment – $131,396, $124,429 state, $6,967 county | The Denise D. Cobb Farm, Clifford Township, a 77-acre dairy farm
- Tioga County – Total investment – $ 292,167, $251,835 state, $40,332 county | The David L. and Julie A. Hess Farm, Jackson Township, a 239-acre dairy farm
- Union County – Total investment – $ 379,706.58, $79,226 state, $300,480 county | The Leroy F. and Barbara Ann Troester #1 Farm, Limestone and Buffalo townships, a 134-acre crop farm
- York County – Total investment – $ 1,053,124, $479,485 state, $573,638 county | Maple Spring Farms Partnership #3, Lower Chanceford Township, a 197-acre crop farm, and The Brenda J. Eisenhour, James E. Eisenhour Jr., Terry L. Sweitzer, and Sandra J. Sweitzer Farm, Warrington and Washington townships, a 156-acre crop farm
In fall of 2022, Pennsylvania’s nation-leading Farmland Preservation Program secured a $7.85 million federal grant from USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program to support climate-smart conservation on preserved Pennsylvania farms.
The dollars will further multiply conservation investments in the 2022-2023 budget, which devotes $220 million to the new Clean Streams Fund. The fund includes $154 million to establish a new Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program supporting farmers’ efforts to reduce water pollution and improve soil quality, and $22 million to increase funding for the existing Nutrient Management Fund, which supports technical assistance to farms to reduce run-off.