A weekly blog for all things conservation
By: Amy Kneller, Ag Resource Specialist
Are you interested in protecting farms, farmland, and a persons’ ability to farm? Protecting agriculture doesn’t always require a conservation easement – it can mean simply securing the right of farmers to farm without dealing with overly burdensome regulations. That’s the role of an Agricultural Security Area (ASA), where agriculture is a primary activity in the municipality. Farmers work with municipalities to develop ASAs, which demonstrate that farming is a local priority and promote more permanent and viable farming operations.
As a landowner, there are a variety of benefits to enrolling land in an ASA. The benefits include:
Farms in an ASA are not required to be in active operation. As long as the farms consist of viable land, are at least 10 acres in size, and have not been diverted to residential or nonagricultural commercial use, the farms do not need to be currently operating to remain in an ASA.
Consider this scenario as an example. It’s time to upgrade and expand the airport. There are two neighboring farms, similar land, same size, same township. The nearby farms look like the perfect addition BUT the farmers don’t want to see their prime farmland paved over for parking lot or runway. They won’t sell. The community moves toward acquiring the necessary property by eminent domain as this upgrade is beneficial for the public. Farm A is in the local ASA and Farm B is not. Farm A is protected from eminent domain by the State Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board while Farm B is taken, paved over, and the landowner is given “fair compensation.” Would your farm be protected or taken?
To enroll land in an Ag Security Area, start by asking your township if they have one. Thirty-three of the fifty-two municipalities in Bradford County have established ASAs. Most were formed in the early 1990’s and some current municipal boards are not aware of the program, process, and benefits to landowners.
The Bradford County Farmland Preservation office can help you find out if your township has an ASA and if your parcel is currently enrolled. If your land is not enrolled and the township has an ASA, you can begin the application process. If your township does not have an ASA, there are 2 options: create a new ASA with a minimum of 250 acres of farmland, or you can be granted permission to enroll your land in a neighboring townships’ ASA.
January is application month for Bradford County Farmland Preservation. We are always available to answer questions and assist with applications. The Bradford County Farmland Preservation office can be reached at (570) 485-3119.
The Bradford County Conservation District is committed to helping people manage resources wisely. You can visit the Bradford County Conservation District at 200 Lake Rd in Wysox across from the Wysox Fire Hall. Contact us at (570) 485-3144 or visit our web page at www.bccdpa.com.
Various staff at the Bradford County Conservation District