Agricultural Land Preservation Program
To protect and promote the continued agricultural use of Pike County's valuable agricultural lands by acquiring agricultural conservation easements from willing landowners on actively farmed lands within Agricultural Security Areas (ASA's).
In January 2015, the Pike County Commissioners certified $1,000 for the purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements in Pike County. This money was matched by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in February, resulting in an allocation of $141,438 to aid Pike County in preserving farmland through Agricultural Conservation Easements.
An extremely important aspect of Pike County's Scenic Rural Character Preservation Program is the establishment of the County's first Agricultural Land Preservation Program. At the recommendation of the Pike County Planning Commission, the Pike County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution at their March 22, 2006 public meeting which established a County-wide Agricultural Land Preservation Program and created the Pike County Agricultural Land Preservation Board to administer that program.
The adoption of this Resolution not only signifies the county's commitment to Pennsylvania's farmland preservation program but also acknowledges the importance to the County of preserving and maintaining Pike County's agricultural lands as a valued economic, natural, ecological, cultural, and historic resource.
While Pike County's farming community may not play a significant part in the State's agricultural economy, Pike County's farmland does play a significant role in the scenic rural character of our local communities. The small family farms, which include pastureland, harvested hayland, orchards and similar agriculture areas, provide scenic open space areas which have a proven value to both residents and tourist visitors to the County.
In upcoming years as the County continues to grow, the Pike County agricultural community (our small farms) will be faced with monumental impediments to their continued operation. Rising costs of farm operation, fluctuating farm product market prices and demand, steadily increasing property/school taxes and the continued pressure from development provide difficult hurdles for small farmers in the County who want to continue their operations and keep the family farms in the family. Pike County prime agricultural soils are areas increasingly sought after for residential development. The reduction in our small farm community corresponds directly to these impediments and the increase in the amount of residential development in the County. The farming areas that do exist in the County will become even more fragmented.
This program will help to strengthen and protect our quality farmland areas in the County for the continued production of food and other agricultural products. It will also assist our small family farm landowners with the preservation and continued operation of these farms by providing additional important and viable options for them.
The purpose of the Pike County Agricultural Land Preservation Program is to protect and promote the continued agricultural use of valuable agricultural lands by acquiring agricultural conservation easements on actively farmed lands within Ag Security Areas (ASA's). The purchase of these easements from willing and interested landowners will provide these landowners with a more viable option for retaining the small farm operations and our local communities rural character.
During 2006, the Pike County Office of Community Planning worked with the Commissioners to draft Pike County's Agricultural Land Preservation Program Manual. The Planning staff worked with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service State Soil Scientist and the local District Conservationist to develop Soil Rating for the Land Evaluation portion of the Manual. Planning staff also worked closely with the PA Department of Agriculture to further detail the necessary sections of the Pike County Manual required under the State's Ag Preservation Program. The Commissioners appointed the Agricultural Land Preservation Board members in early 2007 and the Manual review became their first major task under the new program. Now that the Manual has been approved by the Pennsylvania State Agricultural Land Preservation Board, Pike County can accept applications for easement purchases under the program.
Interested landowners must be included in an approved Agricultural Security Area (ASA) in the County in order to apply for easement purchases. Only "willing" participation by landowners in an ASA and for easement purchases can be considered. Further details on this can be obtained by contacting Jessica Yoder at the Planning office.
January 14, 2010: PIKE COUNTY ADOPTS NEW PROGRAM MANUAL
At the request of the Pike County Agricultural Land Preservation Board and with the approval from the PA State Agricultural Board, the County Commissioners have updated the Program Manual. Changes to the manual include Subdivision Guidelines, Deed of Merger, Water Rights, and an updated Rural Enterprise section. The 3rd Edition of the Program Manual was approved by the Commissioners on January 13, 2010. These revisions can be found by clicking the link above. Anyone wishing to see previous editions is asked to contact the Planning Office.
The Pike County Agricultural Land Preservation Program Easement Purchase Program Manual was originally approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture on February 15, 2007. This manual outlines the administration of the Agricultural Land Preservation Program and also provides the guidelines for interested residents who would like to have an agricultural conservation easement placed on their property. The Agricultural Land Preservation Board presented the program manual to the Pike County Board of Commissioners for their approval. The program manual was approved by the Commissioners on April 25, 2007.
The deadline to submit an application for the purchase of an agricultural conservation easement is February 15th of each year. Any landowner enrolled in an Agricultural Security Area of 500 acres or more is eligible to apply.
In order to be considered for this program, landowners must be enrolled in an Agricultural Security Area.
The first step in the Agricultural Land Preservation process is to enroll the property in an Agricultural Security Area (ASA). Agricultural Security Areas are a tool for strengthening and protecting our quality farmland from the urbanization of rural areas. Landowners interested in protecting their agricultural lands must first be enrolled in an ASA. Agricultural Security Areas offer some benefits to the landowner:
- Protection from local ordinances that would unreasonably restrict farming operations
- Protection from nuisance complaints (such as noise and odor)
- An ASA designation discourages eminent domain and provides the landowner with additional state and local reviews of any proposed condemnation
- Landowners with loans through the Small Business First Program and the Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund may receive a reduction in their interest rates
- ASA designation does not restrict the use of the property by the farmer
Proposals are submitted to the municipality from landowners looking to enroll their property in an Agricultural Security Area. Lands enrolled in ASAs greater than 500 acres are eligible to apply for the purchase of an agricultural conservation easement.
In an effort to assist landowners in creating or joining an Agricultural Security Area, the Pike County Planning & Mapping Office is available to assist landowners in this process. If you are interested in putting your land in an Agricultural Security Area, please complete the form below and the Preservation Planner will contact you and work with you to start the process.
|Agricultural Security Areas (ASA'S)|
|Dingman Township||851||February 2008|
|Greene Township||542||January 2010|
|Lackawaxen Township||5,051||December 2006|
|Westfall Township||925||August 2009|
The Pike County Agricultural Land Preservation Board works with landowners who are interested in selling the development rights to their property. The county is eligible to obtain matching funds from the state to preserve agricultural properties.
Through the application process outlined in the program manual, landowners can reap the financial benefits of preserving their agricultural practices for future generations. By the end of 2022, Pike County had purchased two agricultural conservation easements, shown below.
All meetings are typically scheduled as the 2nd Friday of each month at 3:00 PM. Please note that the January 13th meeting will be a reorganization meeting. To view the agendas, click here.
All Board meetings are held at the Pike County Conservation District located on Route 402 (Blooming Grove)
2023 Meeting Dates
In the event of severe weather, a decision to cancel will be made by 10:00am on the meeting date. Our office will contact Board members on the morning of the meeting should the weather be questionable and cancellation is in the best interest of safety for all. Should we be unable to contact you, please contact our office at 296-3500 before venturing out.
The Pike County Agricultural Land Preservation Board is reaching out to agricultural landowners to introduce the Agricultural Land Preservation Program and assist applicants in applying for funding under this program.
Find out how the new Act 106 might affect you, including the Farmers Market Sales Tax at the Pennsylvania Department Of Agriculture website:
Have you seen our Agriculture Land Preservation placemat at a local restaurant? If not, you can view it here.
Additional questions and comments can be directed to Jessica Yoder at 570-296-3500.