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Farm Land

        

Staff Contact Information

Diane Matthews-Gehringer
Director of Farmland Preservation
Contact
610-391-9583 ext. 14
dianematthews-gehringer@lehighcounty.org


Beverly Weaver
Farmland Preservation Specialist
Contact
610-391-9583 ext.14

bweaver@lehighcounty.org.

Donna Wright
Municipal Outreach Coordinator
Contact
610-391-9583  ext. 15

donnawright@lehighcounty.org


Cathleen Bannon
Garden Plot Program Administrator
Contact

610-391-9583 ext. 17

Lindsey Parks
The Seed Farm Executive Director

Contact 
610-391-9583 ext. 16
  





        

About Land Preservation

The Bureau of Agricultural Land Preservation works with the nine member Sterling Raber Agricultural Land Preservation Board of Lehigh County to preserve farmland within Lehigh County. The name of the board was changed at the end of 2009 to honor Sterling Raber, former county commissioner and chairman of the farmland preservation board, for his long-time dedication and commitment to protecting agriculture and rural life in Lehigh County.

2018 is the 30th year of Agricultural Land Preservation for both Lehigh County and the State of Pennsylvania. Lehigh County is celebrating over 23,000 acres of farmland preserved and the State is celebrating over 550,000 acres, making PA the largest preserver of Agricultural Land in the U.S.

Total Acreage

The preservation of farmland is accomplished through the purchase of agricultural conservation easements (also known as the purchase of development rights) on eligible Lehigh County farm properties. As of June 1, 2018, the County Board has protected 307 Lehigh County farms covering a total of 23,411 acres with perpetual agricultural conservation easements.

Funding Status 

Lehigh County has allocated $2,021,126 for the purchase of development rights in 2018. Lower Macungie Township certified $209,150 for 2018. The state has allocated $2,917,495 for Lehigh County in 2018.  Lehigh County's total farmland preservation budget for 2018 is $5,148,893.



The Lehigh County Land Preservation Board reviews the county program’s per acre cap each year. The current cap is $6,000 an acre.  This is the maximum amount per acre that the Board will pay.  The Board will continue to limit the increase in easement value from second opinion appraisals to no more than 50% above the original offer. Any Board purchase of an easement below the appraisal price may result in income tax breaks. For more information, please see Income Tax Incentives for Land Conservation.

Municipal Partnership

In an effort to preserve more farmland and boost funding for the Lehigh County Farmland Preservation Program, the County has developed the Municipal Partnership Program. Please see the Municipal Partnership Program section for more information.

Waiting List 

Preservation applicants are ranked each year following the July 1st application deadline. The top-ranking farms are then selected for preservation, based off of available funding. Farms that are not selected are put on a waiting list to be considered in the following year(s) when more funding is available. Currently, there are 75 farms on the waiting list.



 

For questions involving Act 319/515, please reference the Lehigh County Office of Assessment webpage. To contact them by phone, please call 610-782-3038.