Ag Dept. Celebrates 25 Years of Preserving Farmland, Keeping Farmers Farming

MERCERSBURG –  Pennsylvania celebrated a milestone yesterday as it marked the 25th anniversary of the nation’s most successful farmland preservation program. Pennsylvania’s program secures the state’s agricultural future by saving the farms of the past.

“We are witnessing history today, a history that every Pennsylvanian had a hand in writing,” said Secretary of Agriculture George Greig. “No other state has such a strong commitment to its farming future as Pennsylvania. Thanks to farmland preservation and other programs that keep farmers farming, Pennsylvania’s next generation of farmers will continue in that rich tradition.”

The state farmland preservation board preserved an additional 1,843 acres on 20 farms during a meeting on Spring House Farm in Mercersburg, Franklin County. The farm is owned by Jere and Angela Hissong.

Spring House Farm predates the Revolutionary War. More than 150 years later, the Hissongs purchased the property to continue agricultural production.

The farm was one of 20 protected at the meeting, joining farms in Adams, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Fayette, Franklin, Lancaster,Lycoming, Montgomery, Susquehanna, Union and York counties.

Since the program began in 1988, state, county and local governments have invested more than $1.2 billion to preserve 480,089 acres on 4,491 farms in 57 counties for future agricultural production.

The Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program identifies properties and slows 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.

In some cases, the federal Farm and Ranchlands Protection Program provides additional assistance. Last fiscal year,Pennsylvania received a record $6.1 million in federal reimbursements.

For more information, visit www.agriculture.state.pa.us and search “farmland preservation.”

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