Respect Farmland believes that the fertile soils of Lancaster County are a unique national and community treasure.
This lush land and the farmers who work it provide abundant food for the densely populated mid-Atlantic states. No other land in the United States grows as much food – without irrigation – as this county does.
Production of this bounty of grains, vegetables, fruit, milk, eggs and meat, long ago established the farms of Lancaster County as a major pillar of the local economy. They and the businesses dependent on them – equipment manufacture, food processing and sales and tourism, among others – employ thousands of people and pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy. While development of farmland can profit the building industry short-term, it weakens all these agricultural industries in the long term and permanently reduces the area’s food-production capability for the nation.
Just as important, the farms of Lancaster County provide intangible benefits of inestimable value. The contoured fields of green and brown instill deep appreciation for the natural beauty of the region. The farmhouses, barns, coops, sheds and silos give it a unique style and character, recognized worldwide. Those who work its fields illustrate every day the basic connection between hard work and fruitful productivity.
Because of these contributions, Respect Farmland believes that any reduction in farmsteads, by development or neglect, irreparably harms the economy, heritage and culture of Lancaster County. Their destruction violates the fundamental principle of stewardship and is indefensible.
For more than a half-century, Lancaster County struggled to balance preservation of its farmland and farm-based economy with the needs of a growing population. We believe that a fair formula to do so was achieved in 1993 and reaffirmed in 2003 when local, county and state government representatives heard the public’s concerns and adopted a rural strategy to encourage residential and commercial growth in and next to urban areas and strongly discourage development on outlying farmland.
In recent years, the people of Lancaster County have seen that commitment to balanced growth and preservation decline, despite multiple public votes in which citizens overwhelmingly expressed support for public and private spending on farm preservation.
Respect Farmland intends to stop and reverse that slide. We intend to hold accountable those who would build projects that violate the spirit of the sensible compromise struck in 1993. We will challenge commercial and residential development that lies distant from the county’s existing suburbs or towns. When questions of size or location for new development on farmland arise, we will urge officials to act with restraint, recognizing that once farmland is paved and built upon, it is virtually impossible to reclaim.
At the same time, we will strongly support construction of needed new houses and stores in the vacant and underused spaces within the city, existing suburbs and boroughs, all places where development already exists.
Respect Farmland, as a grass-roots watchdog, will sound the alarm to alert citizens when individuals, groups, businesses or officials threaten these principles.
Respect Farmland continues the work of past generations of Lancastrians who have built our communities and safeguarded our farmland for future generations.