Agricultural Land Preservation

Aerial view of agricultural land in Erie County

The Erie County Agricultural Land Preservation Program protects viable agricultural land by acquiring Agricultural Conservation Easements on property whose owners are interested in preserving agricultural lands and by encouraging the formation of Agricultural Security Areas in municipalities.

 

Agricultural Land Conservation Easements Program

The County of Erie is a proud participant in Pennsylvania’s nationally recognized farmland preservation program. With the support of interested landowners, the program helps to permanently preserve farms for agricultural production. It helps to guarantee a future food supply and contributes to a healthier economy. It also assures that a way of life cherished by many Erie County residents will continue for generations to come.

This program is voluntary. In order to apply for the agricultural land conservation easement program, a landowner must complete and submit an application. Through the program, permanent easements are purchased. Landowners remain in possession of the land, but the easement limits subdivisions, non‑agricultural development and other uses inconsistent with commercial agriculture.

As of February 2023, Erie County has preserved 84 farms in 16 municipalities, for a total of nearly 9,800 acres.

LEARN MORE: Erie County Agricultural Conservation Easement Program Guidelines (pdf)

HOW TO APPLY: Eligible landowners may apply for the program, with applications accepted June 1st through September 30th in even‑numbered years. The number of farms selected in each application cycle is based on available funding. The application process is overseen by the Erie County Agricultural Land Preservation Board.

The next application period will occur in 2024. At that time, applications will be available at the Erie County Department of Planning & Community Development, and from the Erie County website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact Robert Banks at (814) 451-7332 or rbanks@eriecountypa.gov.

 

Agricultural Security Areas

Agricultural Security Areas (ASAs) have been established by 19 municipalities across Erie County in order to encourage, promote, preserve and protect normal farming operations.

About Agricultural Security Areas:

  • An ASA is an area within one or more municipalities, consisting of at least 250 acres owned by one or more persons.
  • Normal agricultural activities are exempt from local nuisance ordinances (such as those that involve noise, dust, or odors).
  • Limitations are placed on condemnation and eminent domain.
  • Hazardous waste treatment or storage facilities are not permitted.
  • Parcels enrolled must be engaged in the production of crops, livestock or livestock products.

Inclusion in an ASA is voluntary, and landowners may enroll their properties in or remove their properties from an ASA at any time. Municipalities must review their ASAs every seven years, removing any parcels that are no longer in active agriculture. The municipality may not include parcels within an ASA without the consent of the landowner.

To date, 19 municipalities in Erie County, including 18 townships and one rural borough, have established ASAs, containing slightly more than 75,000 acres.

 

2024 Meeting Schedule

  • April 8, 2024
  • August 12, 2024
  • November 4, 2024