Pennsylvania's nation-leading farmland preservation program has set aside an additional 3,332 acres on 31 farms for permanent agricultural production, acting Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced.

In the program's 21-year history, 428,708 acres on 3,928 farms have been preserved for agricultural use in perpetuity, safeguarding them from development.

"Preserving farmland keeps Pennsylvania growing by maintaining and supporting the social, economic and environmental benefits of the state's agriculture industry," Redding said. "We must remain committed to our preservation efforts to ensure that our valuable agricultural land continues to produce affordable food and fiber for our state and nation."

The latest farms to be preserved are in 19 counties: Armstrong, Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Butler, Dauphin, Lancaster, Luzerne, Mercer, Mifflin, Monroe, Montour, Somerset, Union, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland, Wyoming and York.

The state's farmland preservation program works through the Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program, which was developed in 1988 to help slow the loss of prime farmland to non-agricultural uses. The program enables state, county and local governments to purchase conservation easements, also called development rights, from owners of quality farmland.

Since the program's inception, state, county and local governments have invested more than $1 billion to preserve farms.

For more information about Pennsylvania's farmland preservation program, visit www.agriculture.state.pa.us and click on "Producers."

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture