Agricultural Security Areas
About the ASA Program
Agricultural Security Areas are a tool to protect farms and farmland from non-agricultural uses. ASAs are intended to promote viable farming operations over the long term by strengthening the farming community’s right to farm. Pennsylvania took the first step toward protecting farmland when it adopted an Agricultural Security Area law (PA Act 43) in 1981.
Local municipalities create ASAs in cooperation with individual landowners, who agree to collectively place at least 250 acres in an agricultural security area. Landowners initiate the process of creating an ASA by petitioning their municipality, which approves the application in accordance with Act 43. The municipality is responsible for renewing the area every seven years. Participation is voluntary. New farm parcels may be added to or removed from an established ASA at any time.
Landowners who wish to enroll their property in an agricultural security area may fill out an enrollment form. Submit three copies including the required map by certified mail and requesting a return receipt to the township in which the proposed ASA is located.
- Centre County Agricultural Security Areas, 2013
Agricultural Security Areas provide the following benefits to participating landowners:
- Protection from local ordinances and nuisance lawsuits that affect normal farming operations.
- Special consideration during review of farmland condemnation by state and local government agencies.
- May qualify for a lower interest rate when applying for federal loans.
- Unrestricted from developing the property for non-agricultural purposes; only farms within the ASA that have sold their development rights are prohibited from developing their properties.
- If located in an ASA of 500 or more collective acres, may be eligible to apply to sell a perpetual agricultural conservation easement (or their development rights) through Centre County’s Agricultural Land Preservation Program.
- Only land in an existing ASA can be considered for the purchase of an Agricultural Conservation Easement through the Centre County PACE Program.
Centre County ASA
- Non-contiguous farm parcels must be at least 10 acres in size. The farm tracts needed to create a new 250-acre or larger Agricultural Security Area need not be under the same ownership or even located in the same municipality. The Agricultural Area Security Law (Act 43 of 1981) allows for the creation of joint municipality agricultural security areas.
- The property in an ASA should be viable agricultural land, including cropland, pasture, and woodland.
- At least 50 percent of the land should be in Soil Capability Classes I-IV, as defined by the county soil survey.
- The property must be zoned to permit agricultural uses.