WeConservePA has updated two of its guides related to farmland preservation: Why Preserve Farmland? and Farmland Preservation Options for Landowners.
Why Preserve Farmland?, as the name implies, explores the many benefits to preserving farmland through conservation measures. Farms feed us and provide a host of other public benefits. However, every day, the amount of fertile farmland diminishes as development spreads. When farmers think that the farms around them will be sold for development, which would result in the enterprises that support farming leaving and the loss of their support network, this can set off a downward spiral in a farming community: farmers leave farming or stop reinvesting in their farms because they fear the consequences of being one of the last farmers in an area. Farmland preservation programs can provide assurance of permanence to farmers that there will always be a critical mass of farms in an area, bringing stability to the local farm community and economy.
Farmland Preservation Options for Landowners, subtitled Government and Private Approaches to Conservation Easements in Pennsylvania, compares and contrasts the two most frequently employed methods for farmland preservation in Pennsylvania. Farm owners can permanently preserve their farmland with the help of private, charitable land trusts or through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program (ACEPP), jointly administered by the state and county agricultural land preservation boards. Both private and public approaches have long-standing and proven records of preserving farmland. However, they have distinctly different features. There are pros and cons associated with each alternative, and landowners will need to explore them to understand which approach will best meet their needs and goals. A third method, used more frequently nowadays as multi-organizational collaborative approaches are becoming increasingly common, notes that some of the most successful conservation efforts involve using both the local land trust and the government program.