Nation-Leading Pennsylvania Farmland Preservation Program Ends Year with 177 Farms, 14,727 Acres Preserved

Pennsylvania safeguarded 2,710 acres on 32 farms in 17 counties through the state’s nation-leading Farmland Preservation Program. In 2020, the state board, in collaboration with county boards, preserved 177 farms and 14,727 acres of farmland across the commonwealth.

The director and staff of the Bureau of Farmland Preservation were recently recognized by the Wolf Administration for continuing their work while overcoming telework obstacles throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The disruptive impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Pennsylvania’s agricultural system have been broad and varied,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “This year, we’ve watched farmers and consumers bridge the gap from farm to table. Producers and households have depended on each other for certainty and our state’s Farmland Preservation Program has made food security possible for our families and farmers across the commonwealth.”

Preserved farms are protected from future residential, commercial or industrial development. They represent targeted investments in the future of farming and food security in Pennsylvania.

The 32 farms preserved today are in Adams, Berks, Bucks, Butler, Clinton, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lawrence, Lehigh, Lycoming, Monroe, Northampton, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland, and York counties.

These farms include fruit, vegetable, equine, crop, livestock, sheep, goat, and dairy operations.

Since the program began in 1988, federal, state, county, and local governments have purchased permanent easements on 5,813 Pennsylvania farms totaling 591,819 acres.

Notable farms preserved today include the Taggart Family Farm, a 73.45-acre bicentennial crop farm located in Butler County. The farm has been in the family for 220 years. John Taggart, who immigrated from Ireland in 1800, purchased the farm, which will remain in agriculture with certainty for future generations. Statewide, there are now 190 bicentennial farms, many of which are also preserved.

Barrick Farms LLC, a 482.25-acre dairy operation in Cumberland County, is the largest farm secured by the county board to date. The Barrick’s donated half of the easement value to the program, further leveraging funds for additional farms to be preserved.

The David James Nolt Farm, a 95.68-acre crop farm in Lancaster County, is nearly all Class 1 soils. According to USDA, Class 1 soils are the most productive prime farmland in the nation.  Lancaster County is a leader, with over 1,000 farms preserved through the state program and in partnership with Lancaster Farmland Trust, a non-profit organization.