Federal, state, and local officials joined together to celebrate the preservation of 1,785 contiguous acres of historically significant farmland at the Hanover Shoe Farms, Inc. in Adams County, Pennsylvania. Since 2019, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Land Conservancy of Adams County, and Adams County Office of Planning and Development have worked together to protect a total of 11 parcels of land, owned by Hanover Shoe Farms Inc., with permanent easements. Funds from USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) and Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) were used to help purchase the easements, which will forever protect the land from development.
“The ACEP and RCPP conservation programs leverage the collective power and resources of public-private partnerships to deliver meaningful results for agriculture and conservation through land preservation,” said Denise Coleman, NRCS State Conservationist. “The conservation plans developed as a collaborative process between the landowner and field planner, the time and effort put forth by partnership staff, and the joint complementary funding all play an integral role in preserving the land and creating a multi-faceted approach to conservation.”
“Prime soil and clean water are critical resources for feeding a growing population,” Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “Families who preserve their farms forge a partnership with government, investing together in ensuring that future Pennsylvania families will have green spaces, and the resources to produce food, income, and jobs. Each preserved farm represents a vital partnership among farm owners, state, local, and federal government, and private land conservancies that will feed our country’s future for generations to come.”
Hanover Shoe Farms is an internationally recognized horse breeding operation located in Adams County. The horse population located on the farms averages 886 horses. According to a recent study by the Adams County Office of Planning and Development, the annual economic impact of the equine industry in Adams County is $49 million. In 2019, horses bred at Hanover Shoe Farms produced more earnings for jockeys than any other horse farms in the world.
Russell Williams is the fourth-generation owner. Preserving his land became a priority with the extra pressure for development in the area. In addition to Hanover Shoe Farms, Inc., some adjacent landowners have generously donated land to be included in the easements. “By preserving farms, we’ve been able to lock down a micro region,” said Williams. “Land will always have a green place.” He also notes that a horse farm needs a certain amount of peace and quiet. The easements have been able to “establish boundaries where horses can lead a normal life and be horses,’” he added.
“The success of this project could not have happened without the willingness and dedication of the landowner as well as the collaboration of numerous entities,” said Ellen Dayhoff, Manager, Rural Resource Division, Adams County Office of Planning and Development. “The Adams County Commissioners, Conewago and Union Townships and The Land Conservancy of Adams County all worked together with both State and Federal Programs to see this project through to completion! It truly takes a Village!”
To learn more about USDA conservation programs and how they can help you and your land, please visit www.pa.nrcs.usda.gov.
This post adapted from a release by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.