In a state where agriculture and farm equipment are deeply connected with the overall health of the economy, protecting farmland means preserving prosperity.
That's the idea behind the Pennsylvania Agricultural Preservation Board's move to protect an additional 4,225 acres on 47 farms for agriculture production.
In its 21-year history, Pennsylvania's nationally recognized farmland preservation program has safeguarded 418,880 acres on 3,828 farms, keeping the land safe for tractors but protected from development, the state's agriculture secretary said.
"Pennsylvania is the national leader in farmland preservation, allowing agriculture to continue as the state's leading economic enterprise," said secretary Dennis Wolff. "Each year, the agriculture industry contributes $5.8 billion to Pennsylvania's economy and employs one in seven citizens. Every measure must be taken to ensure our number one industry remains viable for the future, and that includes protecting prime farmland for future production needs."
The state"s farmland preservation program works through the Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program, which was developed in 1988 to help slow the loss of prime farmland to non-agricultural uses.
The program enables state, county and local governments to purchase conservation easements, also called development rights, from owners of quality farmland.
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