Agriculture is an important industry in Centre County. In 2003, the County Comprehensive Plan recorded that approximately two acres of farmland were lost to other uses per day - the equivalent of an average size Centre County farm every three months. However, from 2006 to 2010, agricultural land increased from 108,344 Acres to 108,693 Acres, due to forest conversion and a decrease in development activities. According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, Centre County ranked 24th among the 67 counties in Pennsylvania with 1,023 farms.
According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, agriculture sales in Centre County account for $91,478,000 or 1.17% of all agricultural sales in Pennsylvania. A Centre County farm sold on average $89,422 of products in 2017. The economic impact of farming in Centre County, coupled with the continued loss of prime farmland, necessitates the enactment and enforcement of agricultural land protection for future generations.
With programs in place that encourage the consumption of locally grown foods, farm land preservation, and better farm practices, agriculture will continue to have a significant influence on Centre County's economy.
Centre County Quick Facts
Agriculture is an important industry in Centre County. According to the Pennsylvania Agricultural Statistics for 2017:
- There are 1,023 farms in Centre County on 149,858 acres.
- The average farm covers 146 acres.
- Centre County's farms sold agricultural products valued at over $91 million.
- The average Centre County farm sold $89,422 in products.
The Farm as a Business
Living next to a farm is not the same as living next to a state forest, state gamelands, or a state or local park. Farms have characteristics common to many industrial enterprises. This may seem like a statement of the obvious. However, there have been numerous occasions where people, enticed to build a home in an agricultural area by the area's scenic beauty, have ended up complaining about routine farming practices carried out by the owner of the adjoining farmland. It seems that people who did not grow up around farms forget that:
- Farms are businesses which require a significant capital investment to start and operate.
- Farmland is private property, not public space available for four-wheeling, snowmobiling or other recreational activities, unless the landowner has specifically granted permission to use the land.
- Raw materials are shipped in, processed, and shipped out as value-added products.
- The production process involves activities that generate waste products, noise, and odors; may involve the use of pesticides, herbicides, and machinery; and entail operations beyond "regular business hours."
- The business is established to generate a profit.