Farmland Preservation News 

Crop field, blue sky, white clouds
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE NEWS

Nation-Leading Pennsylvania Farmland Preservation Program Ends Year with 177 Farms

Wolf Administration Awards $1 Million in Farm Vitality Grants Created by 2019 PA Farm Bill 

In Centre County, Jeff and Cindy Harding, Frank Nolan, Paul Broker and Stephen Hoy are grant recipients. In all, the administration awarded Farm Vitality Planning Grants to 133 farms in 45 counties. Note: Cindy Harding serves as vice chair of the Centre County Agricultural Land Preservation Board.

For Jeff and Cindy Harding, there's nothing like life on Hess Farm
“It was a reality check for a lot of people,” Cindy said. “The unintended consequence of COVID was that all of a sudden, people started thinking about where their food was coming from.” Note: Cindy Harding serves as vice chair of the Centre County Agricultural Land Preservation Board.

RELIEF PAYMENTS AND GUIDANCE FOR FARMERS

Direct Relief for Farmers Affected by the Pandemic

Farmers are eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program
Agricultural producers, farmers, and ranchers are eligible for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) passed by Congress as part of its Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The PPP is a guaranteed loan program aimed at helping small businesses maintain their payroll during the coronavirus crisis.

Agricultural producers, farmers, and ranchers with 500 or fewer employees whose principal place of residence is in the United States are eligible.

Farms are eligible if: (i) the farm has 500 or fewer employees, OR (ii) it fits within the revenue-based sized standard, which is on average annual receipts of $1M.

Additionally, farms can qualify for PPP if it meets SBA’s “alternative size standard.” The “alternative size standard” is currently: (1) a maximum net worth of the business not more than $15 million, AND (2) the average net income Federal income taxes of the business for the two full fiscal years before the date of the application be not more than $5 million.

COVID-19 Guidance for Farms and Markets
Agriculture is an essential, life-sustaining industry. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture encourages all segments of the agriculture supply chain to continue operations throughout the coronavirus pandemic, including farms, farmers markets, CSAs, and farm stands.
     All essential businesses that remain open should adopt safety protocols to limit the spread of the coronavirus while continuing to deliver food to their communities. Open the link above for a list of relevant information and resources to support farmers and local markets as we work together to adapt our operations and business models.


PUBLICATIONS

2020

PA Bureau of Farmland Preservation 2019 Annual Report
Pennsylvania is a national leader in farmland preservation with 5,675 farms and 579,940 acres protected through permanent agricultural conservation easements. Public funds used toward easement purchase are a critical investment in the future of Pennsylvania’s thriving $135.7 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 Covid-19 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. 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 completed 55 easements and preserved 8,205 acres of farmland.

PRESENTATIONS

CBICC ABC Essentials Presentation, May 19, 2020

Stewards of Our Farmland: How a Centre County Board and the Commonwealth are Securing a Future for Our Farmers

Stewards of Our Farmland presentation
A visual tour of Centre County’s preserved farmland in Benner, Ferguson, Harris, Marion, Potter, Spring and Walker townships.

Publication Archive

NEWS RELEASES
2020


Centre County's agricultural easement preserves 54th farm
The McWilliams farm is the county’s 54th agricultural easement, and the 27th property to be preserved in Ferguson Township, bringing the township’s total acreage for preserved farms to 3,664 acres.

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

Farm Preservation Report Marks State’s Progress
Pennsylvania has made a major commitment to farmland preservation

The state has preserved 600,000 acres on 5,700 farms — an almost $1.6 billion accomplishment. Another 1,400 farms are on waiting lists to be preserved. “Here in Pennsylvania, we like to tout the fact that we lead the nation in farmland preservation,” said Douglas Wolfgang, director of the Pennsylvania Ag Department’s Bureau of Farmland Preservation.

Pennsylvania County News: Agriculture in Pennsylvania
This Spring 2020 publication features Pennsylvania’s farmland preservation program. See page 10.

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."

Make rural Pennsylvania’s voice heard in the Census 2020
USDA grants are based on census data.

RESOURCES FOR FARMERS

PA Department of Agriculture
Learn how the PA Farm Bill works for you.

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.

Succession Planning
The Farm Vitality Planning Grant Program helps fund professional services for those planning for the future of a farm. 

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.