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Speaker sees both farms, growth ahead for Franklin County

January 28, 2006|By BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

KAUFFMAN STATION, Pa. -

Factors that create suburban sprawl also can strengthen agriculture, said Ronald Bailey, executive director of the Campaign to Renew Pennsylvania.

Bailey addressed the Penn State Cooperative Extension of Franklin County's annual meeting Friday night, speaking about balancing agriculture and community growth.

In a presentation targeted to Franklin County, Bailey said that farming is likely to survive in the county. Based on trends and economic factors, both agriculture and community development are likely to be in the county's future, he said.

"People tend to look at this as an either/or situation, that you have to stop growth to preserve farmland," Bailey said. "It's going to be a mix for Franklin County. You're going to have communities and agricultural land. That has to be balanced."

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While Interstate 81 enables people to live in Franklin County, but work in Hagerstown, thus encouraging suburban sprawl, it also makes possible the swift, efficient move of agricultural products to market.

"It all fits together," Bailey said. "Some factors can be both a threat and an asset. The key is sustaining agriculture as a viable business and at the same time accommodating all other needs."

George Hurd, Penn State Cooperative Extension environmental and resource development educator, said Bailey was instrumental in developing land-planning techniques to protect agriculture in Lancaster County.

Bailey served as executive director of both the Lancaster County Planning Commission and the Lancaster County Transportation Coordinating Committee from 1988 to 2004. Under his leadership, the Lancaster County Planning Commission became nationally recognized, and was the first in Pennsylvania to establish urban growth areas. Of all of the metropolitan areas in Pennsylvania, the Lancaster area grew the most and sprawled the least in the last decade.

A highlight of 2005 for the Franklin County Cooperative Extension was the move of its offices to the Alms House, built in 1811 as the county home. The former office building has been torn down and a new building will be erected on the site in 2007 to house other agricultural agencies and meeting room space for the extension.

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