FARMLAND PRESERVATION APPLICATIONS AVAILABLE For Release: Apr. 16, 2012 Contact: Elizabeth Menhart, Communications Director/Tourism (724-852-5210)
WAYNESBURG, PA Applications will be available from April 15 to June 15 for any Greene County resident interested in participating in the countyís Farmland Preservation program.
The Farmland Preservation program enables farm acreage to be protected against development and is administered by the state Department of Agricultureís Bureau of Farmland Preservation. Nationwide, Pennsylvania has the most farmland preserved out of any state, with more than 4,100 farms and more than 450,000 acres enrolled, according to the bureauís Web site.
Locally, the Greene County Conservation District manages the program, which was first established in 2006 with the creation of a Farmland Preservation board. The first county farm was entered into the program in 2008, and a second preserved farm is pending with the state.
Preserving local farmland ensures the protection of rapidly disappearing natural resources, keeps property taxes at lower rates, maintains local scenery, helps promote local tourism and benefits the environment, according to the Pennsylvania Farmland Preservation Association Web site. Local farms are also key to providing fresh food at reasonable costs and supporting farm and farm-related jobs.
Interested landowners must be enrolled in an approved Agricultural Security Area, which comprises at least 250 acres from among all participants. At least 50 percent of the soils on the farmland must have a soil capability class of I-IV, as determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Soil Survey, and the land should be viable agricultural land.
More than 9,000 acres and 70 landowners are enrolled in previously approved ASAs located in Center, Cumberland, Greene, Morgan, Washington and Wayne townships. Landowners in other townships, however, can petition their township supervisors to create an ASA.