HARRISBURG – The Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee unanimously approved a bill today that would boost Pennsylvania’s farmland preservation program by expanding eligibility to land trusts, according to the bill’s sponsor, Senator Scott Martin (R-13).
Senate Bill 881 would direct a portion of existing farmland preservation funding to private land trusts. Matching funds would be required from land trusts, which would infuse new private funding into the state’s efforts to preserve farmland.
Martin said the effort has broad support from preservation groups across the state.
“Pennsylvania’s farmland preservation program is one of the most successful in the country, but in today’s economic environment, we cannot afford to become complacent. This approach will help us preserve more farms without asking for more money from taxpayers,” Martin said. “We need to ensure prime agricultural land remains in use for generations to come. Land trusts have a proven track record of success, especially in working with farmers who are reluctant to work with the government, such as the plain sect community.”
Pennsylvania leads the nation in the number of farms and acres permanently preserved for agricultural production. To date, 552,702 acres have been preserved on 5,329 farms across the state.
“I am proud of how Lancaster County continues to be a leader in the state and nation in farmland preservation with more than 111,000 acres preserved on more than 1,400 farms, which represents just over 18 percent of the total land area of the county,” Martin said. “Farmland preservation in Pennsylvania and Lancaster County is important as it supports agriculture, agri-tourism and businesses that support agriculture in our communities.”
The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
CONTACT: Terry Trego (717) 787-6535