Pennsylvania Voters Approve Bonds to Save Farmland
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Pennsylvania voters have authorized a $100 million bond issue designed to slow the loss of farmland by keeping it out of the hands of developers.
With about 85 percent of the ballots counted Tuesday, 1,009,900 voters favored the referendum while 471,881 opposed it.
The proposal, viewed by farm organizations as a way to keep agriculture as the state’s top industry, had no large-scale organized opposition and drew attention from voters in both rural and urban areas.
The bond funds would be used to buy development rights from farmers, who often find their land more valuable to developers and speculators than it is in agricultural production.
Farmers participating in the voluntary program would be paid the difference between the value of the land when planted and its development value.
State Agriculture Department officials said about 90,000 acres of farmland are being lost to developers each year.
Similar programs have been adopted in 11 other states. They are Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.