On December 11, 2023, WeConservePA sent the following letter in support of HB 1777 to state representatives. Text below.
Re. HB 1777 leverages farm preservation funds
No cost to state; big conservation benefit
On behalf of the 70 member organizations of WeConservePA and their more than 100,000 Pennsylvania members, I ask you to vote YES on HB 1777, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support from the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee on November 14.
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
cc: member organizations