For Immediate Release: October 10, 2013
Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition Congratulates Department of Agriculture
on 25th Anniversary of Farmland Preservation Program
(HARRISBURG, PA) The Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition, the largest coalition of conservation, recreation and preservation organizations in the Commonwealth, today congratulated the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture on the 25th anniversary of the state’s Farmland Preservation Program.
“The Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition congratulates the Department of Agriculture on the anniversary of the Farmland Preservation Program, which continues to boost the state’s agriculture industry and give residents access to fresh, local food,” said Andrew Heath, executive director of the Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition. “As the number one industry in Pennsylvania, agriculture has a major impact on the state, providing $67 billion in economic benefits and 1 in 7 jobs. Continued investment in farmland preservation is critical to the economic success of our state and to the health and well-being of residents.”
Created in 1988 in response to a growing trend of developing farmland for non-agricultural uses, the program gives state, county and local governments the option to purchase from farmers conservation easements that protect against development.
Pennsylvania is the nationwide leader in farmland preservation, having protected over 478,000 acres on 4,471 farms in 57 counties throughout the Commonwealth.
“Pennsylvania residents and government officials have long understood that beautiful, productive farmland supports our economy, nurtures our health and enhances quality of life,” said Executive Director of the Lancaster Farmland Trust Karen Martynick. “The success of this program says a lot about who we are as Pennsylvanians and has given us the opportunity to shape the future for our children and grandchildren in a real and positive way.”
The program is funded through an annual allotment of cigarette tax revenue in addition to Growing Greener Environmental Stewardship funds.
According to a survey from the Center for Survey Research at Penn State Harrisburg, 92 percent of 608 Pennsylvanians surveyed think that state funds dedicated to preserving farmland and open space, providing parks and trails and protecting rivers and streams should continue to be used for these purposes.
In addition, the survey found that nearly 78 percent of respondents support increasing state funds to conserve and protect open space, clean water, natural areas, wildlife habitats, parks, historic sites, forests and farms even if would cost the average household $10 more annually. These high levels of support are constant throughout every geographic region and every gender, ethnic, educational and economic demographic throughout the state.