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Pa. continues preservation of farmland

February 19, 2008

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania will continue to be the national leader in farmland preservation thanks to a joint state and county investment of $15.1 million to preserve 5,391 acres of farmland in 23 counties.

The Farmland Preservation Board granted the approvals recently, said Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff.

"By joining with counties and local municipalities to preserve valuable farmland, future generations can continue to enjoy the rich tradition and economic impact of production agriculture in Pennsylvania," said Wolff. "As the state's number one industry, every measure must be taken to keep agriculture growing, for the benefit of our producers and consumers."

Pennsylvania has preserved 382,845 acres on 3,450 farms since the program began in 1988.

"To help celebrate the program's 20th anniversary, we anticipate reaching the 3,500-farm and 400,000-acre milestones this year," Wolff said.

The Farmland Preservation Board also approved a $33 million investment in the preservation program. County programs will contribute $41.2 million in matching funds to protect quality farmland from development and non-agricultural uses. This $74.2 million in combined funds can preserve an additional 37,000 acres or more than 300 farms, the fourth highest program total in history.

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The latest preserved farms are in 23 counties: Armstrong, Berks, Blair, Centre, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Erie, Franklin, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, Snyder, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland and York. Currently, 57 of Pennsylvania's 67 counties are participating in the program.

The state's farmland preservation program works through the Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program, which was developed 20 years ago to help slow 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.

For more information about Pennsylvania's nationally recognized farmland preservation program, visit www.agriculture.state.pa.us, and click on "Producers."

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