Agricultural and Farmland Preservation News 

CENTRE COUNTY AGRICULTURAL NEWS

Centre County Agricultural Land Preservation News Update - Fall 2022

As we invest in preserving our prime farmland, it's equally important that we invest in stewarding that land and protecting our soil

We’re delighted to share this slideshow from our first ever event for our preserved farm landowners and farmland preservation applicants -- hosted at one of our preserved farms, the Happy Valley Vineyard and Winery, in Ferguson Township on September 13. The subject was soil health, with a focus on cover cropping and pest management. Sponsored in partnership with the Centre County Conservation District, the event was supported by an American Farmland Trust grant. The evening’s emcee was Devyn McPheeters, nutrient management technician with the Centre County Conservation District, who was joined by three specialists in soil health. 
 
Every one of our preserved farm landowners and farmland preservation applicants was invited to this farmer-to-farmer conversation about soil health. While all could not attend, we will bring our soil health packet to each of our farm inspection visits this fall.

Thank you to everyone who attended. Let's keep the conversation going. 

Our Panelists

  • Ron Hoover, farmer, Penn State agronomist and coordinator of Penn State’s On-Farm Research Program
  • Joel Myers, farmer, former state agronomist and soil health specialist with the U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service—specializing in agronomic conservation practices such as no-till planting
  • Mary Barbercheck, Penn State Professor of Entomology--specializing in soil entomology and insect pathology 

Our gracious panelists have offered to respond to follow-up questions. If you have questions for them, please email Diana Griffith, Centre County Agricultural Land Preservation Coordinator, at dlgriffith@centrecountypa.gov

Our Hosts
Barb Christ and Elwin Stewart, Happy Valley Vineyard and Winery 

Door Prizes from our Preserved Farms
Happy Valley Vineyard and Winery, $25 Gift Certificate
Meyer Dairy Store, $15 Gift Card and $10 Set of Souvenir Glasses 
Musser Farm Market, $25 Gift Certificate 
Scott’s Roasting, $25 Gift Certificate 
3 Penn State Soil Health Lab Testing Kits ($9 each)

Catered Dinner by Prospectors Mount Nittany Rib Company
 

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Centre County Conservation District announces new funding for cover crops

The Centre County Conservation District is excited to announce a new Cover Crop Incentive Program for the 2022-2023 crop year. Farmers who plant a winter cover crop are eligible for the program. 

  1. Farms using minimum tillage will be paid $20 per acre
  2. Farms using no-till will be paid $30 per acre
  3. Farms using no-till with a multi-species cover crop  (at least 3, with 15% broadleaf species) will be paid $40 per acre

With limited funding available, the amount of acreage cost shared for each farm will be dependent on overall interest in the program. A percentage of the total acres will be funded for each farm if interest exceeds funding capabilities. Farmers may apply for up to 200 acres per operation/farm.

Cover crops will be verified in Spring 2023 and participating farms will be inspected by the Centre County Conservation District for compliance with the Chapter 91 Manure Management Plan and Chapter 102 Agricultural Erosion and Sediment Control Plan. 

The deadline to apply for the Centre County Conservation District Cover Crop Incentive Program is December 2, 2022.

Download a fillable application here

Questions can be directed to Devyn McPheeters at 814-355-6817 or ddmcpheeters@centrecountypa.gov. Applications can be emailed or sent to our office at 414 Holmes Street, Suite 4 Bellefonte, PA 16823.

PennDOT announces 3rd round of public meetings on the State College Area Connector Study

The purpose of the State College Area Connector Study is to identify existing and projected transportation needs within the study area. The study is being done by PennDOT in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Some of the proposed routes may impact Centre County farmland. Fortunately, it was announced that Route 144 has been removed from consideration--a relief to our preserved farm landowners in that corridor.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is encouraging the public to “Save the Date” for the next round of public meetings on its State College Area Connector Planning and Environmental Linkage (PEL) Study in southern Centre County.  

The next public meetings are tentatively set for the evenings of October 19 and 20 at the  Mount Nittany Middle School in Boalsburg. More specific details will be shared as plans evolve.  

Up-to-date information on the study can be found at www.PennDOT.pa.gov/SCAC  

PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE NEWS

Pennsylvania Invests $3.166 Million To Protect 18 Farms In Nine Counties From Future Development

Pennsylvania protected 784 acres on 18 farms in nine counties from future development, investing more than $3.166 million in state, county and local dollars to ensure that prime farmland is not lost to development. Pennsylvania has now protected 6,094 farms and 614,668 acres in 58 counties from future commercial, industrial or residential development.

The 18 newly preserved farms -- approved by the Pennsylvania State Agricultural Board on August 25 -- are in Berks, Centre, Chester, Erie, Lebanon, Lehigh, Northampton, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

The Centre County farm, owned by the David G. Burket Living Trust, is a 22-acre crop farm in Ferguson Township.

Department of Agriculture Wins $7.85 Million from USDA to Multiply PA Investments Combatting Climate Change

The Department of Agriculture’s Farmland Preservation Program has won a competitive partnership grant of $7.85 million from the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) to support climate-smart conservation on Pennsylvania farms, Agriculture Russell Redding said today. 

Pennsylvania’s $12.8 million investment in preserving farms will leverage these federal dollars for farms that implement and measure the impact of practices that address climate change. 

PUBLICATIONS

2022

Farms Under Threat 2020: Choosing an Abundant Future

America's farmland and ranchland is rapidly disappearing, threatening our food security, undermining the agricultural economy, and making us vulnerable to climate shocks. The nation has a choice: allow unchecked sprawl to erode this critical resource, or safeguard it with policies that protect farmland and smarter land-use planning that leads to efficient growth. 

This new report from American Farmland Trust maps three alternative futures out to the year 2040.

2021

PA Bureau of Farmland Preservation 2021 Annual Report

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Farmland Preservation administers programs that protect prime farmland for future generations. Pennsylvania is a national leader in farmland preservation with 6,044 farms and 611,620 acres protected through permanent agricultural conservation easements (April 2022). Public funds used toward easement purchase are a critical investment in the future of Pennsylvania’s thriving $132.5 billion agricultural industry. In addition to the economic benefit, the program ensures food supply for a growing population. Pennsylvania has some of the most fertile, non-irrigated soils found anywhere in the world. The pandemic and increased threat of climate change both put food security at a heightened level of awareness and further support the need to continue preserving farms. The latest USDA ag census figures indicate that the Commonwealth lost roughly 6,000 of its farms from 2012-2017. cp99042.pdf (usda.gov) Development pressures will threaten prime farmland soils in the decade ahead. Farmland preservation mitigates these irreversible losses.

Centre County Preserved Farms
Since 1991, Centre County has preserved 58 farm parcels and 8,763 acres of farmland.

PRESENTATIONS

Preserving Centre County Farmland Forever
Presentation for the Ag Forum of Centre County_09.08.21

A Visual Tour of Preserved Farms in Centre County

Presentation Archive

Publication Archive

FARMING NEWS FROM AROUND THE STATE AND THE NATION: 
The Future of Farmland Preservation

What does the future of farming in Pennsylvania look like?
Pennsylvania is investing in helping farmers who will be transitioning to new owners and operators, 
as well as qualified new and beginning farmers. 

10 numbers that show how much farmland we’re losing to development
"What’s new ... is the discovery that the development isn’t coming only from urban areas expanding outwards – rural areas are also losing farmland rapidly."

PA Bureau of Farmland Preservation
Pennsylvania leads the nation in the number of farms and acres permanently preserved for agricultural production. The program guarantees a future food supply and contributes to a healthier economy. 

Beginning Farmers
This webpage dedicated to the Beginner Farmer Realty Transfer Tax Exemption (Act 13 of 2019) includes basic information about the program, frequently asked questions, and associated forms.

If you have questions about resources for farmers, contact Diana Griffith, Centre County Ag Land Preservation Coordinator, at dlgriffith@centrecountypa.gov or (814) 355-6791.

WATCH: Farmland Preservation: Preserving Our Roots, Securing Our Future