A Cambria County farm was one of 27 protected this week during a meeting of the Pennsylvania Agricultural Land Preservation Board.

According to a press release from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the Patricia Miller farm, a crop farm of more than 128 acres, was preserved at the meeting.

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said the 27 farms covering more than 2,100 acres across 15 counties represent targeted investments in the future of farming.

"Pennsylvanians share a connection to our farmland – we reaffirmed that commitment 30 years ago with the creation of a state farmland preservation program, and through state funding initiatives, county-level programs, non-profits, and farmers themselves, we continue to live that commitment to food production in the Keystone State," Redding said. "Safeguarding our land is the first step to securing our best agricultural land for generations to come."

Since the program began in 1988, federal, state, county, and local governments have purchased permanent easements on 5,607 farms totaling 574,642 acres in 59 counties for agricultural production.

The farms included three preserved by the Hissong family in Franklin County that support a dairy operation, which join four other farms totaling more than 700 acres that have been preserved by the family. The board also preserved the Mark and Kelly Shannon farm in Adams County, which grows fruits and vegetables for sale at local farmers markets and for delivery to customers in Washington, D.C.

Other farms preserved include equine, poultry, crop, and livestock operations. Many families accepted reduced compensation for their easements, and several donated their farmland outright.

The Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program, as it is formally known, is dedicated to slowing the loss of prime farmland to non-agricultural uses. Funding allows state, county and local governments to purchase conservation easements from owners of quality farmland. State, county, local, and federal funds committed at the meeting are allocated to county programs to purchase development rights to preserve farms on county waiting lists.

​Jocelyn Brumbaugh is a reporter for the Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter @JBrumbaughTD.

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