State Invest 7.5 Million To Save 29 Local Farms

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PENNSYLVANIA — Dozens of more farms around Pennsylvania have been preserved forever as part of a huge new investment from the state to protect the state's agricultural landscapes and heritage.

The 29 farms span some 2,500 acres across 14 counties, and will receive $7.5 million in funding. The move expands Pennsylvania's preserved farmland acreage to 600,000.

"Pennsylvania's farmland preservation program is of utmost importance," Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement. "Agricultural development and farmland preservation are inextricably tied to food security and nutrition and the population of Pennsylvania and the world are only increasing."

Among the 29 announced Thursday, officials highlighted the Mark L. and Ann M. Miller farm, a 112.42-acre crop and sod operation in Lehigh County's Upper Saucon Township. The area faces "intense development pressures" from nearby expanding subdivisions, and the preservation of this significant piece of land ensures that the character of the region is maintained.

Pennsylvania's farmland preservation program, which began in 1988, has become a national leader. For farmers, there are several benefits: the counties provide financial support for operations, and offers a reduction of estate and inheritance taxes for those passing the farm down.

And for the public, it not only improves the environment and keeps an important aspect of historic and cultural heritage in the region alive and thriving, but it's an important way to support the local economy, officials say.

It's also an important tool in the ongoing fight against climate change.

"Preserving farmland ensures we can grow our own crops and rely less on imports and products," State Sen. Judith Schwank said. "Buying locally grown food keeps money in local economies, creates jobs, and provides economic stability to farmers."

With Thursday's announcements, the state has now preserved 5,928 farms.

The full list of preserved farms is included below:

Berks County – total investment: $375,651 state, $207,200 county

  • The Benjamin & Karah Davies farm, a 20-acre livestock operation
  • The Kenneth & Elizabeth Ehst farm, a 27-acre crop farm
  • The Curtis & Dorothy Huber farm, a 20-acre crop farm
  • The Dennis & Donna Kunkle farm, a 61-acre crop and livestock operation
  • The Jeremy & Cindy Martin farm, a 50-acre crop and livestock operation
  • The Warren & Bonnie Wessner farm, a 76-acre crop farm


Butler County – total investment: $38,549 state, $78,497 county

  • Thurber Farm, an 88-acre crop and livestock operation


Centre County – total investment: $148,564 state, $50,000 county

  • The Larry & Suzanne Harpster farm, an 82-acre crop farm


Chester County – total investment: $954,838 state, $443,970 county

  • The Virginia Kelsall farm, a 49-acre crop and livestock operation
  • The Douglas & Jessica Engle farm, a 172-acre crop farm


Cumberland County – total investment: $509,985 state, $100,000 county

  • The Jacob & Lora Crider farm, a 92-acre crop and livestock operation
  • The Floyd & Susan Martin farm, a 68-acre crop and livestock operation


Dauphin County – total investment: $39,540 state only

  • Andals Farm, a 26-acre crop farm


Erie County – total investment: $361,535 state only

  • The Kevin & Colleen Osborn farm, a 218-acre crop farm


Lancaster County – total investment: $1,723,754 state only

  • The Joshua & Britni Akers farm, a 154-acre crop and livestock operation
  • The Bradley & Lois Beiler farm, a 92-acre crop and livestock operation
  • The Thomas & Iva Lapp farm, a 102-acre crop and livestock operation
  • The Jerry Paul & Laurie Beth O'Donnell farm, a 113-acre crop and livestock operation


Lehigh County – total investment: $676,372 state, $17,990 county

  • The Mark & Annie Miller farm, a 112-acre crop farm


Mercer County – total investment: $185,806 state, $61,026 county

  • The Harold & Marlyn Hill farm, a 239-acre crop and livestock operation


Montgomery County – total investment: $1,932,433 state, $870,309 county

  • AFZ Development, a 36-acre crop farm
  • The John & Donald Black and Donna Horn farm, a 44-acre livestock operation
  • The Jason Lutchendorf #1 farm, a 76-acre crop farm
  • The Scott & Sharon Melanson farm, a 26-acre crop farm


Northampton County – total investment: $227,635 state, $277,470 county

  • Sutliff Farms #1, a 33-acre crop farm
  • The Carl & Judith Nicholas farm, a 16-acre crop farm


Schuylkill County – total investment: $215,534 state, $215,534 county

  • The Glenn Hetherington #5 farm, a 151-acre crop farm


York County – total investment: $13,251 state, $817,890

  • The Randall & Sarah Patterson farm, a 228-acre crop and livestock operation
  • Pennsylvania Wine Works, a 44-acre vineyard
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