Union County working to preserve farmland

LEWISBURG — While Joni Mitchell sang the words “pave paradise put up a parking lot” 40 years ago, the trend continues today.  Pennsylvania used to be covered in miles of unobstructed land, now the majority of land is covered in homes, businesses and parking lots.

According to David Epler, that is why the Union County Farmland Preservation program came into existence.  “What we’re trying to do is preserve farmland, because we realized we’re losing a lot of land.  Back in 1959 we had 93,000 acres, then in 2010 we were down to 63,000.  We lost about 1/3 of our agriculture land, according to the 2010 census.  We needed to save some land.”

Epler said they put an easement on farms throughout the county, meaning the farmer sells the right to develop the land.  “It’s a great program.  We really realize the importance of preserving a farm.  You have your scenic character and the economic impact.  Even in 2010, economically, we sold over $84-million in Ag products.  The cost to the county is also better, because the cost of open space is much less than developed space.  So, there are a lot of wins for everybody in the county.”

Epler said the program purchases the rights to about 3 farms a year.  Since its creation in 1990, they have purchased 70 farms.  Epler was a guest on WKOK Sunrise Tuesday morning.  (Codi Jade)

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