November 15, 2004 (ENS): Pennsylvania Governor
Edward Rendell Friday marked the addition of a 2,500th
farm to Pennsylvania’s Farmland Preservation Program
while calling for the renewal and expansion of Growing
Greener, a state program that helps fund preservation
of agricultural land.
“This milestone spotlights our commitment to the
farmland preservation for years to come,” Rendell
said during a State Land Preservation Board meeting
at the Shea Farm in Hamburg, Berks County. “While
we celebrate this great accomplishment, we also face
a sobering reality - the reality that development is
outpacing preservation. If farmland continues to disappear
at a rate of more than 200 acres a day, Pennsylvania’s
agricultural economy is in jeopardy.”
The governor is lobbying for his Growing Greener II
proposal, whereby the state Farmland Preservation Program
would receive $100 million as part of a proposed $800
million bond issue distributed among the following three
areas over a four-year period - $330 million for parks,
open space and farmland; $300 million for environmental
cleanup; and $170 million to revitalize older communities.
“Despite the willingness of farmers to preserve
their land, lack of funding has created a backlog of
more than 1,900 farms,” said Rendell. “In
the Sheas’ case, they have waited on the list
for 14 years. The longer these farms wait, the greater
the danger that prime farmland will fall victim to developers,
and Pennsylvania will forever lose the land for agricultural
“Growing Greener II funding will allow Pennsylvania
to continue to preserve farmland in Pennsylvania,”
said state Secretary of Agriculture Dennis Wolff, who
appeared with the governor.
“As Pennsylvania loses its farms, farmland and
farmers, we lose our competitive edge and economic advantage
over other states and nations regarding agricultural
production, trade and power. The additional $100 million
will allow us to preserve an additional 375 farms or
43,000 acres—and help us keep the agriculture
industry strong in the Commonwealth.”
Pennsylvania leads the nation in farmland preservation.
Since purchasing the first development rights in 1989,
the state's Agricultural Land Preservation Board has
preserved 2,513 farms totaling 290,040 acres.
Through the preservation program, the state and individual
counties can purchase development rights, called easements,
on farmland. Landowners are compensated for offering
their development rights for the land while permanently
protecting the farmland for agriculture.