Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Announces $13.9 Million Invested in Newly Safeguarded Farms, Reducing Threats to Farmland, Food Security

At the Deckman family farm in Cumberland County today, Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced an $11.9 million investment in food security by safeguarding 4,432 acres on 48 farms in 25 counties through the state’s nation-leading farmland preservation program. County governments invested an additional $2 million in the farms preserved today, bringing the total investment to $13.9 million.

The announcement was held in Mechanicsburg at the 55-acre Deckman Farm, one of the 48 farms preserved by Pennsylvania’s Agricultural Land Preservation Board.

According to a 2020 American Farmland Trust report, Farms Under Threat, Pennsylvania lost an alarming 244,000 acres to housing development from 2001 to 2016. This loss was countered by permanently preserving 347,000 acres of farmland during that same time period. Since the inception of Pennsylvania’s Farmland Preservation Program in 1988, the state has preserved more than 5,700 farms and 584,000 acres of Pennsylvania’s agricultural land for perpetuity with a more than $1.6 billion investment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown many Pennsylvanians empty grocery store shelves for the first time in their life, leading to a heightened awareness of where food comes from and how it gets from farm to shelf. Access to farmland is vital to food security and meeting demands in both a regular and crisis climate.

In 2019, an agriculture research study funded by the department and conducted by Dr. Thomas Daniels, University of Pennsylvania, found the total economic impact of farmland preservation in Pennsylvania to be valued from $1.8 to $2.9 billion annually. The report also concluded environmental benefits of farmland preservation to be estimated at an additional $1.9 billion annually. Through his research, Dr. Daniels found that farmland contributes more in tax dollars than in demands in services.

The 48 farms preserved today are in Adams, Armstrong, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Columbia, Cumberland, Erie, Franklin, Greene, Lackawanna, Lawrence, Lehigh, Luzerne, Mifflin, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, Somerset, Susquehanna, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland, and York counties. Since the program began in 1988, federal, state, county, and local governments have purchased permanent easements on 5,724 farms totaling 584,487 acres in 59 counties for agricultural production.

The farms preserved today include crop, fruit and vegetable, dairy, nursery, beef and livestock operations.

The full release and list of farms preserved can be found here.