York County operates one of the most proficient Agricultural Land Preservation programs in the nation. Since the first York County Agricultural Land Preservation Board was appointed in 1990, the program has preserved more than 44,080 acres and 298 farms through easement purchase and donation.

Why preserve agricultural lands?

York County farms produce a farm market value of $ 260,927,000.00 as reported by the 2017 Census of Agriculture.  PA Farm Bureau reports farm products, leaving the farm gate, increase value 4 to 5 fold within the region as the raw product is further processed and refined into a final product, creating 1 in every 14 jobs.  Despite the increased farm production reported, in 2017, York had 2,067 farms on 252,713 acres, with a 4% loss in farms, and a 5% loss in acres between the 2012 and 2017 census research.  Through the deed restrictions placed on preserved lands, the County can assure York residents and farmers, will retain access to food production lands.

The current trend today is for consumers to “Buy Fresh and Buy Local” agricultural products. Farm markets are seeing resurgence in the last five years by a growing customer base looking for fresh and locally produced affordable market fruits, vegetables, milk, and meats. Local in-season produce is often cheaper than big box store prices.

Preserved farmlands operate under the PA Clean Stream Law requiring adherence to soil, water, and nutrient management planning that contributes to improving water quality throughout our County.  Open farmland land, also allows rain to infiltrate into our ground water replenishing our water supply for private and public water sources.  In the past two years, conservation planning efforts, associated with the York Ag Land Preservation Program, have developed conservation plans on 72 tracts, covering 7, 362 acres.

Cost of Community Service studies throughout the Northeast repeatedly show that farmland pays tax revenue to communities without requiring public services beyond fire suppression. Farmland preservation helps a community balance lands that require public services with lands that help subsidize public services.

These are just a few good reasons why York County must look to tomorrow when it comes to preserving our agricultural heritage.