Farmland Preservation Program, Greene County Conservation District, Greene County Government, Pennsylvania
Farmland Preservation Program, Greene County Conservation District
Pennsylvania leads the nation in the number of farms and acres permanently preserved for agricultural production. The Farmland Preservation Program is dedicated to protecting valuable farm acreage from development. In 2006 the Greene County Farmland Preservation (GCFLP) Board of Directors was established, and bylaws for the County program were developed and adopted. The first conservation easement purchase was finalized in 2008.
Farmland Preservation Program
Contact Person:Karlie Wright, Agricultural Technician 22 West High Street, Suite 204 Waynesburg, PA 15370
Phone: 724-852-5278 / Fax: 724-852-5341
Office Hours: 8:30 a.m. 4:30 p.m., MondayFriday The Easement Purchase program was developed in 1988 to help slow the loss of prime farmland to non-agricultural uses. The program enables state, county, and local governments to purchase conservation easements, sometimes called development rights, from owners of quality farmland.
The Agricultural Security Area program began in 1981 as a tool for strengthening and protecting agriculture in Pennsylvania. Farm landowners, working together, initiate the process of establishing such areas in which agriculture is the primary activity.
It is voluntary for farmers/landowners to join this program. Petitions are submitted to township supervisors. ASAs are reviewed every seven years; however, new parcels of farmland may be added to an established ASA at any time. A minimum of 250 acres from among all the participating farmers is required to begin an ASA. An ASA may include non-adjacent farmland parcels of at least 10 acres or be able to produce $2,000 annually from the sale of agricultural products. Participating farmers will receive 3 main benefits for participating in the ASA program.
First, the township supervisors agree to support agriculture by not passing nuisance laws that would restrict normal farming operations.
Secondly, limitations will be placed on the ability of the state and local government to condemn farmland in an agricultural security area for highways, parks, schools, or municipal projects.
Lastly, landowners will be eligible to voluntarily apply for the Farmland Preservation Program that will allow them to see an agricultural easement (development rights) in exchange for monetary compensation as long as there is at least 500 acres in the ASA program.
To start an ASA program, typically, a group of farm owners get together and initiate the process of establishing an ASA in their township. By submitting a petition to the township supervisors, landowners begin the process. The petition must include the signatures, addresses, tax parcel numbers, and acres of the farm tracts for the landowners who are applying. If the petition is approved, participating landowners promise to keep farming under normal farming practices and in return for the township benefits. There are no penalties to the landowner if the land use changes while in the program. The term of the ASA is seven years and at that time there is a re-certification process where properties may be removed if deemed necessary. The addition of land to an existing ASA may occur at any time.
Landowners with the following have eligible properties:
Non-contiguous farm parcels must be at least 10 acres in size. The farm tracts needed to create a new 250 acre or larger ASA do not have to be under the same ownership.
The property should be viable agricultural land. Cropland, pasture, and woodland can all be included in an ASA.
At least 50% of the land should be in Soil Capability Classes I-IV, as defined by the county soil survey.
The property must be zoned as agricultural if the township participates as zoning.
Click here for a registration form. The District staff is available to help you with the soil survey or any other questions you may have.
Greene County has a total of 83 landowners with 11,104.53 acres enrolled/approved in the ASA program, they include the following:
Cumberland Township 908.23 acres enrolled with 6 landowners
Center Township 1,691.4 acres enrolled with 7 landowners
Franklin Township 803.76 acres enrolled with 5 landowners
Greene Township 1,189.14 acres enrolled with 5 landowners
Jefferson Township 429.63 acres enrolled with 4 landowners
Morgan Township 1,604.66 acres enrolled with 8 landowners
Washington Township 2,364.27 acres enrolled with 40 landowners
Wayne Township 2,122.9 acres enrolled with 8 landowners
The Farmland Preservation Program is dedicated to protecting valuable farm acreage from development. In 2006 the Greene County Farmland Preservation (GCFLP) Board of Directors was established, and bylaws for the County program were developed and adopted. The first conservation easement purchase was finalized in 2008. The Farmland Preservation Board meets the 3rd Wednesday of each month, unless otherwise advertised.
Click HERE for out current Farmland Preservation Board Membership.
What are the minimum program requirements?
Landowners must be enrolled in an approved agricultural security area (ASA) consisting of at least 500 acres;
Have at least 50 contiguous acres;
Have at least 50 percent of the soils on the property in soil capability classes I-IV (as defined by the Web Soil Survey) and be available for agricultural production;
Contain the greater of 50 percent or 10 acres of harvested cropland, pasture or grazing land.
The landowner must own their surface mineral rights.
What is the application process? The Greene County Farmland Preservation Board of Directors will accept applications for inclusion in the countys agricultural easement program from January 1st to December 31st each year unless otherwise advertised. The application period is advertised through local newspapers. Each application will be scored using the approved Land Evaluation and Site Assessment (LESA) scoring system. The LESA system is used to rank the easement applications by evaluating soil and location factors for the property. Farms are then ranked according to their LESA score to be purchased in order as funds allow.
For the landowner application package, click here.
Greene County Preserved Farms As of 2015, the GCFLP Board and County Commissioners has purchased 5 agricultural easements, consisting of 591 acres, for preservation. The easements were purchased with a combination of State and County funds for a total of $550,288.00.
For more information about the Greene County Farmland Preservation Program, or to receive an application, call the Greene County Conservation District at 724-852-5278. Farmland Preservation Meeting Minutes: (the board meets every third Wednesday of each month, all meetings are subject to change)
Ben Franklin Building (Suite 204), 22 West High Street, Waynesburg, PA 15370 724-852-5278 / Fax: 724-852-5341
County of Greene, Pennsylvania
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