Preserve to Prosper: The Benefits of Farmland Preservation
October 27, 2023
Who benefits from farmland preservation other than the farm family? What does it mean for our community when farmland is protected forever? Here's a look into what preserving farmland brings to our community...
Preservation Protects Our Soil
Did you know that the soil beneath your feet is some of the best soil in America? Lancaster County has some of the richest non-irrigated soil in the country. Not only does non-irrigated soil save water (check out our blog about water conservation here), but prime soils like ours can produce more food per acre than other areas of the country. Preserving farmland protects our nutrient-dense soil forever!
Preservation Helps Our Environment
Open spaces such as farmland have various positive impacts on the environment, and protecting these spaces guarantees the continuance of these positive impacts.
First, farmland helps to mitigate flooding, as well as offsets rain and snow-melt events. Farmland, instead of pavement, absorbs water rather than causing excessive run-off. This water recharges groundwater. Farmland also helps to offset the effects of climate change. Large fields remove pollutants and store and sequester carbon.
Plus, think about our furry, feathery, and scaly friends. Farmland and other open spaces provide habitats for wildlife, especially farms that house forested areas and bodies of water. They also provide food, shelter, and water for essential pollinators. Preserving these spaces eliminates the possibility of destroyed habitats and relocated wildlife.
Preservation Aids Land Planning and Growth Management
What is land planning and growth management, and why are they important? Farmland preservation can be used to separate agricultural zones from designated growth areas for development. This guarantees all parties the space they need to flourish, minimizing conflicts between farmers and non-farm neighborhoods. It can also help to keep growth and development balanced while retaining working lands and the agricultural industry. Balance and unity are key!
Preservation Protects Our Food
Now more than ever, people understand the importance of shopping locally. By buying locally- grown produce, for example, people can know where their food has come from, as well as limit shipments needed for non-local deliveries. Lancaster County produces hundreds of pounds of produce annually, feeding our communities nutritious and delicious fruits and vegetables. Farmland preservation guarantees that a farmer will use their protected spaces for agricultural purposes forever, keeping our food supply chain strong. Long Live Local!
Preservation Helps Municipal Cost Reduction
According to American Farmland Trust, farmland contributes more to property taxes than is used in services like schools, police, fire, sewer, and water. In fact, for each dollar of property tax paid, farmland requires less than a dollar in public services. So, permanently protected farmland helps municipalities and school districts control costs.
Preservation Supports Positive Economic Impacts
Farmland preservation supports agribusinesses, such as equipment dealers, feed mills, large animal vets, and agricultural lenders to survive and maintain local and regional agricultural economies. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, two dollars of economic activity results for every dollar spent on preserving farmland (Daniels, 2019). This means that farmland preservation has an estimated multiplier effect of two!
Preservation Encourages Next-Gen Farmers
Being a farmer is demanding, and the average farmer's age is steadily increasing. We need the next generation of farmers to carry on Lancaster's agricultural legacy. Preserving land for the agricultural industry allows new farm families access to suitable land. Finding farmland is hard enough, let alone affording it! Not only does preservation allow access to farmable land, but the conservation easement payment can provide farm families more options when selling their preserved farm to the next generation at a more affordable price. For the up-and-coming farmer, it truly is a win-win.
For LFT, preservation is much more than protecting land. Preserving a farm can benefit a community in numerous ways. We want everyone in the community, farmers and non-farmers alike, to enjoy these benefits, but we need your help! If you're interested in helping us in our mission to preserve land in Lancaster, click here to learn more about ways to get involved.