County receives $3.74 million from the State for preservation of farms
At its recent meeting, the Pennsylvania Agricultural Land Preservation Board awarded Chester County the highest level of funding, $3.74 million, to preserve farmland on Chester County farms. The state board announced an overall spending threshold of $38 million for the purchase of development rights from 38 farm owners state-wide – the highest spending total in over a decade.
Chester County’s award of state funds, added to certified county funds of $5 million for farmland preservation in 2019, positions Chester County as the state leader in funding for agricultural land preservation.
“Preservation of farms is truly best practice for the future benefit of everyone and we must do what we can to make sure Chester County’s tradition of farming continues,” said Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Michelle Kichline.
Since the start of Chester County’s agricultural land preservation program 30 years ago, more than 40,100 acres of farmland have been preserved. Factoring in current agreements of sale, the number exceeds 41,200 acres. Last December, Chester County preserved its 500th farm.
Commissioner Kathi Cozzone noted: “The variety of preserved farms in Chester County reflects the diversity of our agriculture. It is a vital industry, creating more than $600 million in revenue a year.”
Commissioner Terence Farrell added: “Chester County has invested $106 million in farmland preservation over 30 years, and that investment ensures that the county’s agriculture industry continues to contribute over $3 billion to our local economy through sales, employment, taxes and services.
“We thank the members of our Agriculture Land Preservation Board for their valuable contribution, making our program the best in the state.”
The nine-member Chester County Agriculture Land Preservation Board (ALPB) guides the County on farmland preservation and reviews applications from farm owners. Board chairwoman Melba Matthews said, “We are so proud of the accomplishments of our volunteer board that has worked in partnership with county staff and the Chester County Commissioners for the past 30 years to preserve farmland.
“It is a great accomplishment to be state leader for farmland preservation, while leveraging federal, state, county, and township funds to support the local farming industry and preserve open space.”
The ALPB is now accepting applications for farmland preservation. Farms 10 acres or more are eligible if they are adjacent to permanently preserved land. Farms not adjacent to permanently preserved land need to be a minimum of 50 acres in size for the Commonwealth program and 25 acres in size for the Challenge Grant Program. The deadline for Chester County’s Farmland Preservation application is August 1st.
For more information, see www.chesco.org/openspace or contact Geoff Shellington at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (610)-344-6504.