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 274 farms totaling more than 41,012.96 acres.
Why preserve agricultural lands?
York County produces approximately about $212 million annually in agricultural products, raw product, or "at the farm gate receipts". PA Farm Bureau indicates this figure increases 5.8 fold within the region as the raw product is processed and refined into final products, creating nearly a $750 million industry in York County.
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 regulation requiring adherence to soil, water, and nutrient management planning that contributes to improving water quality throughout our County. In the past four years, conservation planning efforts, associated with the program, have developed conservation plans on 161 tracts, covering 16,509 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.