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PA Farmland Preservation: What You Need To Know

If you’re a farm owner, we know how important it is for you to preserve your land’s health and functionality for years to come, but where do you start? The different programs offered at the county and state levels can seem a bit intimidating at first glance but we are here to help.

Read on to learn more about the three programs most widely used for PA farmland preservation. Ultimately to determine the best program for you and your property, we recommend sitting down with an agriculture attorney and discussing your property’s future.


Clean and Green

If you’re looking for a program designed to reduce your property taxes, then Clean and Green may be of interest to you. This program bases your land’s value on use values instead of fair market values, which usually means you’ll pay less in taxes. In order to qualify for this program, your land must be at least 10 acres in size, or be able to make a farm income of $2,000 a year, and must be in either Agricultural Use, Agricultural Reserve or Forest Reserve.


York County Agricultural Land Preservation Program

This program is made for farmers who are invested in preserving their land’s agricultural status for generations to come. If your farm is accepted, you’ll give up your right to develop the land in exchange for payment. This is known as an agricultural conservation easement.

In this agreement, landowners also agree to submit to an annual inspection.

The amount you’ll receive for your easement is the difference between the market and farmland values as determined by state-certified real estate appraisers.

The application process for this easement is based on scoring. Eligibility requirements can be found here and the full Farmland Ranking system here. The system is primarily based on:

  • Farmland quality
  • Likelihood of conversion within the coming 20 years
  • Distance from other preserved farmland
  • Land stewardship
  • Fair, objective, equitable and non-discriminatory procedures


York County Farm and Natural Lands Trust

Similar to the York County Agricultural Land Preservation Program, the York County Farm and Natural Lands Trust, a non-profit conservation organization, is centered on agricultural conservation easements. The concept is the same: You give a conservation easement to the Farm and Natural Lands Trust that restricts your ability to develop your land.

The main difference here is that the Farm and Natural Lands Trust will accept Natural Lands, in addition to Farmland. Also, you can make a charitable donation to the Trust, in addition to receipt of money for your easement.

Want to learn more about PA farmland preservation opportunities? Contact Stock and Leader’s Agriculture team today.



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