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Lancaster County Farming Facts
Did you know…?
Small family farms make up 88% of the farms in America. The definition of a “small family farm” is always up for debate, but generally accepted to mean a non-commercialized, family-run farm that sits on less than 500 acres.
Lancaster’s farmland and culture are the primary reasons why 7 million tourists spend $1.6 billion per year in Lancaster. Guests to the area enjoy seeing the rural way of life, where families live off the land and do not rely as heavily on modern conveniences such as technology, large shopping districts, public transportation, and more. A big part of this appeal is the conservative Amish community. The Amish currently make up approximately 5% of the Lancaster County population.
The agriculture and farming industry in Lancaster provides 51,000 jobs and contributes over $4 billion to the local economy each year.
An average Lancaster dairy farm has 65 cows and uses 1 million gallons of water per year.
Lancaster county boasts 5,462 farms of the total 63,200 in PA, almost 9%. The farms make up 425,336 acres of PA’s 7.8 million acres of farmland, about 5.5%.
Each year, Lancaster farmers produce…. Eggs for 9 million people, milk for 10.6 million people, chicken for 3.6 million people, pork for 2.2 million people, and beef for 835,750 people.
Farmers and ranchers make up less than 2% of the US population, but each one produces food for 144 people.
Amos Funk is known as the “Father of farmland preservation” in Lancaster County, because he led the way for conservation in the 1980s. He was a big part of bringing the Amish and Mennonite farmers on board to preserve their land. The Lancaster County Agricultural Preserve Board was started in 1980 to help preserve Lancaster farmland, but the plain farmers were hesitant to get involved with a government program. A sub-group called the Friends of Agricultural Land Preservation was formed in 1985, specifically to help Amish and Mennonite farmers preserve their land. This sub-group later changed its name to the Lancaster Farmland Trust, and remains an integral branch of the Ag Preserve Board today, as a private, non-profit, local organization.
The Lancaster Farmland Trust has helped preserved over 100,000 acres of farmland since its start in 1980—the most any conservation board has preserved in the US.
There are approximately 80,000 acres of preserved farmland in Lancaster, which represents 25% of Agriculture-zoned land. This means that Lancaster is ranked #1 in the US, and is a leader in farmland preservation.