The latest round of approvals provides a joint state and countyinvestment totaling $15.1 million, which will preserve 5,391 acresin 23 counties. The full $74.2-million investment is expected topreserve 37,000 acres on more than 300 farms.


Since its inception in 1988, the program has preserved 382,845acres on 3,450 farms. "To celebrate the program's 20th anniversary,we anticipate reaching the 3,500-farm and 400,000-acre milestonethis year," says Dennis Wolff, agriculture secretary, in astatement. Currently 57 of the state's 67 counties participate inthe program.


It works though an agricultural conservation easement purchaseprogram, developed to slow the loss of farmland to non-agriculturaluses. It enables the state, county and local governments topurchase conservation easements, also called development rights,from owners of qualified farmland. According to Gov. Ed Rendell,"agriculture is the leading economic enterprise in Pennsylvania,contributing $45 billion annually to the state's economy."

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