WeConservePA sent the following letter to members of the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee on October 30, 2023:

Text of Letter:

October 30, 2023

Re. HB 1777 leverages farm preservation funds
No cost to state; big conservation benefit

Honorable Member of the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee:

On behalf of the 70 member organizations of WeConservePA and their more than 100,000 Pennsylvania members, I ask you to both urge the chair to call up and vote in favor of HB 1700 (formerly SB 64), which passed unanimously last session out of the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee.

Last session, SB 64 was unanimously reported out of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee and passed overwhelmingly on the Senate floor by a vote of 42-4.

HB 1777 will increase the volume of farm preservation at no additional cost to the Commonwealth. It will accomplish this by directing a tiny fraction of the existing Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Fund to support the purchase of agricultural conservation easements by private, charitable land trusts. The increased quantity of farm preservation will result from the bill’s requirement that land trusts match state funding at least dollar for dollar.

HB 1777 will also incentivize agricultural preservation by farmers belonging to plain sect communities, who are often reluctant to work with government.

Land trust involvement in farm preservation delivers further public benefit by placing the responsibility and costs of managing the purchased agricultural conservation easements on the land trust rather than county and state government. Land trusts are experienced in raising private dollars for this management.

Thank you for your consideration.

Andrew M. Loza
Executive Director
cc: member organizations