Agricultural and Farmland Preservation News 


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE NEWS

Agriculture Secretary Redding highlights department's investments in agritourism, conservation, and education

CATAWISSA, Columbia County--Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding was joined on May 4 by FFA students and leadership from Soil Bound LLC on a tour of Rohrbach's market and orchards -- a total of 59 acres of preserved farmland. The Rohrbach farm is one of the more than 6,000 farms that have benefitted from Pennsylvania's $9.7 million investment in farmland preservation. The farm exemplifies how the Commonwealth's public investments feed dollars into our economy and create jobs and tourism and education opportunities while conserving land and resources for a successful future.

By selling their land's development rights, landowners preserve their farms -- protecting the land from future residential, commercial or industrial development. Farm families often sell their land at below market value to ensure that it will remain farmland. Pennsylvania partners with county and sometimes local governments and non-profits to purchase the development rights, ensuring a strong future for farming and food security.

CENTRE COUNTY PRESERVATION NEWS

Centre County farmers voice concerns over State College Area Connector plans

"The Farm Bureau reported concerns the highway would destroy farms in the path of the expansion, according to a news release. Though a route still needs to be finalized, the possibility of a four-lane highway bisecting some farms has led to a drop in property values and placed a significant hurdle for farmers who are planning for the future of their farms, the release states."

Staff for the Centre County Agricultural Land Preservation Board are keeping PennDOT's consultants updated on the location of preserved farms and agricultural security areas in Potter and Harris townships. PennDOT has been advised of the board's concerns on behalf of its preserved farm landowners, and also received a letter from PA Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding expressing his concern that the project not impact preserved farms.

Centre County Agricultural Land Preservation News Update ~ Winter 2022

This issue of our farmland preservation newsletter features the following:

  • updated figures for Centre County's Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easement (PACE) program;
  • reminders for landowners on stewarding their preserved farms;
  • a save-the-date for a soil health workshop on September 13, 2022 (funded by our American Farmland Trust soil health award);
  • information about financial assistance from REAP (resource enhancement and protection program);
  • State guidelines for those considering solar panels on a preserved farm, and a
  • Centre County Conservation District report about students learning soil health practices on a local farming operation

ClearWater Conservancy permanently conserves Gray's Woods

The 149-acre property was acquired by Patton Township in 2017 through its Open Space program and now the conservation easement will ensure the property is permanently protected and available for public use as an outdoor recreation destination. 

ClearWater Conservancy conserves Bella Vista Farm 

This 22-acre property is located just west of Musser Gap and contains sensitive wetland habitat, farmland, and woods, as well as 1,150 feet of Slab Cabin Run, an important local stream that flows into Spring Creek. 

WATCH Farmland Preservation: Preserving Our Roots, Securing Our Future

PENN STATE COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES NEWS

Richard Roush, dean of Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, promotes soil testing

"The (priority) that comes to mind right away is soil testing. And a lot of farmers would know that, but sometimes people don’t get around to it or they forget about it, and it’s really critical to find out if you’ve got the right amount of nitrogen, the right soil pH and so forth. They’re not very expensive. ... If you’re significantly low on nitrogen, or if you’ve got the wrong pH, you could get significantly lower yields, so that reduces your profitability. But, on the other hand, you don’t want to do too much, which would allow some of it to wash off during heavy rainstorms.
 
"So it’s simple enough. People will take their samples to our analytical lab and, for $9 a sample, it’s not expensive. You might want to do a few in each field because there’s variation, but it’s relatively inexpensive compared to the savings in costs and benefits for increasing yields. So it’s something we’re encouraging people to do."

PUBLICATIONS
2021

PA Bureau of Farmland Preservation 2021 Annual Report

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Farmland Preservation administers programs that protect prime farmland for future generations. Pennsylvania is a national leader in farmland preservation with 6,044 farms and 611,620 acres protected through permanent agricultural conservation easements (April 2022). Public funds used toward easement purchase are a critical investment in the future of Pennsylvania’s thriving $132.5 billion agricultural industry. In addition to the economic benefit, the program ensures food supply for a growing population. Pennsylvania has some of the most fertile, non-irrigated soils found anywhere in the world. The pandemic and increased threat of climate change both put food security at a heightened level of awareness and further support the need to continue preserving farms. The latest USDA ag census figures indicate that the Commonwealth lost roughly 6,000 of its farms from 2012-2017. cp99042.pdf (usda.gov) Development pressures will threaten prime farmland soils in the decade ahead. Farmland preservation mitigates these irreversible losses.

Centre County Preserved Farms
Since 1991, Centre County has preserved 58 farm parcels and 8,763 acres of farmland.

PRESENTATIONS

Preserving Centre County Farmland Forever
Presentation for the Ag Forum of Centre County_09.08.21

A Visual Tour of Preserved Farms in Centre County

Presentation Archive

Publication Archive

FARMING NEWS FROM AROUND THE STATE AND THE NATION: 
The Future of Farmland Preservation

What does the future of farming in Pennsylvania look like?
Pennsylvania is investing in helping farmers who will be transitioning to new owners and operators, 
as well as qualified new and beginning farmers. 

10 numbers that show how much farmland we’re losing to development
"What’s new ... is the discovery that the development isn’t coming only from urban areas expanding outwards – rural areas are also losing farmland rapidly."

PA Bureau of Farmland Preservation
Pennsylvania leads the nation in the number of farms and acres permanently preserved for agricultural production. The program guarantees a future food supply and contributes to a healthier economy. 

Beginning Farmers
This webpage dedicated to the Beginner Farmer Realty Transfer Tax Exemption (Act 13 of 2019) includes basic information about the program, frequently asked questions, and associated forms.

If you have questions about resources for farmers, contact Diana Griffith, Centre County Ag Land Preservation Coordinator, at dlgriffith@centrecountypa.gov or (814) 355-6791.