Archive for November 1st, 2020

Another Potter County Farm Preserved; Total Now 1,390 Acres

November 1st, 2020 Comments off

Farmers across Pennsylvania face mounting pressure to sell their acreage for real estate development or other non-agricultural uses. The loss of a farm often creates a ripple effect with economic, environmental and social consequences. Hundreds of acres in Potter County have been permanently preserved for agriculture under a state-sponsored program — with a county partnership — to purchase conservation easements, or “development rights.”

Most recent addition is the 84-acre Robert J. Hallman crop farm. Its development rights were purchased with $75,000 in state funds and a $16,900 county share. Potter County’s Farmland Preservation Program has now paid landowners just over $1 million for easements on 1,390 acres spread out over nine farms. State funding for the program has been significantly cut in recent years, with the vast majority being committed to counties in the southeastern part of the state where development demands are strongest. Despite the state cuts, the Potter County Commissioners have maintained the county’s yearly contribution to the program.

Guidelines require that easements be at least 50 acres, although counties can elect to lower the requirement to 35 acres. The program is administered by the Potter County Conservation District and directed by a board appointed by the commissioners. Farms are chosen on the basis of quality as well as stewardship – use of conservation practices and best management practices of nutrient management, as well as erosion and sedimentation control, proximity to water, and extent and type of non-agricultural development nearby. Payments are determined by assessing the market value and agricultural value of the land. The difference between those two figures is the maximum value of the easement. For more information, contact Potter County Conservation District office at 814-274-8411.