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HARRISBURG, PA-Under the commonwealth’s Growing Greener II initiative, the farmland preservation board has added 37 farms aggregating 4,357 acres in 18 counties to the Farmland Preservation Program. Voters approved a $625-million bond issue for Growing Greener II and Gov. Ed Rendell signed the program into law this July. It provides $80 million for farmland preservation over six years and is designed to preserve 2,000 farms from development.

“Increasingly, Pennsylvania has encountered new development pressures resulting in higher land values and enticing many farmers to sell their acreage,” says Dennis Wolff, agriculture secretary. “We must not forget that, while we are able to preserve 60 acres a day, we also lose 300 to development at the same rate. Unfortunately, once these lands are converted for residential or commercial uses, they cannot be reclaimed for agriculture.”

With this additional acreage, the state will have preserved 2,687 farms totaling 308,461 acres. Fifty-five of the state’s 67 counties are currently enrolled in the program. In combination with the state’s agricultural conservation easement purchase program, developed in 1988, the program enables state, county and local governments to purchase conservation easements, also called development rights, from farmland owners.

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