A Bipartisan History
While farming has always been the cornerstone of the Lancaster County economy, the need to protect farmland didn't become an imperative until suburban growth and traffic patterns became an apparent threat to the agricultural life here in the 1970s and 80s. At that time, concerns about the loss of Lancaster's land became a front page issue, thanks to the efforts of a longtime conservative businessman Amos Funk.
From Amos' efforts, and the efforts of so many who joined him, Lancaster County led the way with the formation of two groups dedicated to the cause of farmland preservation. The county's farmland preservation measures would never have been a success without the support of the bipartisan group of sitting county commissioners who approved preservation: Jim Huber, GOP Commissioner - Robert Boyer, GOP Commissioner, and Brad Fischer, Democratic Commissioner.
At the time, commissioner Boyer summed up the problem rather succinctly:
"It just seemed like development was going on everywhere and without any planning."
Lancaster has come a long way since the formation of these initial preservation groups. As of 2015, 77,148 acres of farmland on 909 Lancaster County family farms were preserved by the Ag Preserve Board. This would never have happened without both parties coming together and protecting Lancaster County's way of life.
The job they started is far from completed. In 2018, a survey put forward by Lancaster2040 showed that Lancastrians are overwhelming concerned about the pace of ongoing development in the county and the almost daily loss of farmland that has continued these past decades, despite the best efforts of farmland preservation.
Respect Farmland is proud to continue the activism started in the 1970s and 80s, and in the spirit of this movement's founders, continues the cause with a bipartisan coalition.
(Pictured left - Syndicated article which ran nationwide on August 31, 1980)