Ag Issues

Ag Issues

Agriculture Preservation

Our county’s 5,650 farm families provide fresh, local food for Lancaster residents, and Americans across the United States. Locals are proud to say “I’m from Lancaster County.” It’s no wonder why so many choose to make Lancaster County their home. Or their home away from home. (Lancaster Farmland Trust, website,

In fact, the quality of life and beauty of the county is also its biggest threat. According to the Lancaster County Planning Commission, we are building more homes than other counties in the region. Lancaster County’s housing unit growth of 16.4% from 2000-2015 is much greater than the state’s rate of 7.8%. Lancaster’s population continues to grow at a rate nearly three times the state average.

Lancaster County farms boast some of the richest, most productive, non-irrigated agricultural soils in the world! More than 425,000 acres of them, in fact. The fields and pastures which make up these farms are a valuable natural resource. They serve more than ears of corn and cows. They also protect watersheds, recharge groundwater, and control flooding. Open farm fields improve air quality and provide food and cover for wildlife.

Our community values the land, and our County’s heritage rooted in agriculture. That’s how Lancaster County Agriculture Preserve Board and Lancaster Farmland Trust have preserved 25% of the county’s working lands. But, that means 75% of them are still unprotected and at risk of being developed.

Once our precious farmland is paved over, we can never get it back. That’s why it’s so critical to preserve the valuable acres we have left.

Every year prime Lancaster County farmland is lost to shopping malls, business complexes, and housing developments. Lancaster Farmland Trust is dedicated to helping both Plain Sect (Amish and Mennonite) and English farmers preserve their farms and way of life for future generations.

Our Lancaster County is changing every day — in big ways. Some of these ways are good for our community and our economy and others threaten the very fabric of our extraordinary quality of life.

  • More than 1,200 acres of Lancaster County farmland are lost to development every year. That’s more than three acres every day!
  • There are still 300,000 acres of land unprotected in Lancaster County.
  • Population projections indicate that the county will grow by 20 percent over the next 20 years.

A preserved farm doesn’t necessarily look any different than a farm that is not preserved. The land still grows crops, feeds animals, and supplies fresh, local produce. The difference is the assurance that a preserved farm can continue to provide those things, forever. By preserving farms, the land remains open and the landowner can continue to own and farm their land. Landowners may sell or pass on their land to heirs at any time.  To learn more about the Lancaster Farmland Trust, click here.


See the link to more information on this website by clicking here.


Pesticides are an important component within many agricultural and horticultural crop production systems that result in the production of a safe, abundant, and affordable safe food supply.  Pesticides are also critical tools in a variety of public health activities.

In forty-three states and Puerto Rico, the state department of agriculture is a co-regulatory partner with EPA and is responsible for administering, implementing and enforcing the production, labeling, distribution, sale, use and disposal of pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which establishes a rigorous, scientific evaluation and review process for these tools. NASDA supports the scientifically-sound development, review, registration, and re-registration of crop protection technologies and uses to enable growers to produce our nation’s food, fiber, and fuel. (Policy Statement of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture on Pesticides, September 2017.  Click here to see the entire Statement)

Pesticide use has changed considerably over the past five decades. Rapid growth characterized the first 20 years, ending in 1981. The total quantity of pesticides applied to the 21 crops analyzed grew from 196 million pounds of pesticide active ingredients in 1960 to 632 million pounds in 1981. Improvements in the types and modes of action of active ingredients applied along with small annual fluctuations resulted in a slight down-ward trend in pesticide use to 516 million pounds in 2008.

These changes were driven by economic factors that determined crop and input prices and were influenced by pest pressures, environmental and weather conditions, crop acreages, agricultural practices (including adoption of genetically engineered crops), access to land-grant extension personnel and crop consultants, the cost-effectiveness of pesticides and other practices in protecting crop yields and quality, technological innovations in pest management systems/practices, and environmental and health regulations.

Emerging pest management policy issues include the development of glyphosate-resistant weed populations associated with the large increase in glyphosate use since the late 1990s, the development of Bt-resistant western corn rootworm in some areas, and the arrival of invasive or exotic pest species, such as soybean aphid and soybean rust, which can influence pesticide use patterns and the development of Integrated Pest Management programs.

To see the rest of the report from the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture, click here.

Climate Change

Climate change and agriculture are interrelated processes, both of which take place on a global scale, with the adverse effects of climate change affecting agriculture both directly and indirectly. This can take place through changes in average temperatures, rainfall, and climate extremes (e.g., heat waves); changes in pests and diseases; changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide and ground-level ozone concentrations; changes in the nutritional quality of some foods;[2] and changes in sea level.[3]

Climate change is already affecting agriculture, with effects unevenly distributed across the world.[4] Future climate changes will most likely affect crop production in low latitude countries negatively, while effects in northern latitudes may be positive or negative.[4] Animal husbandry also contributes towards climate change through greenhouse gas emissions.

Agriculture contributes towards climate change through anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and by the conversion of non-agricultural land such as forests into agricultural land.[5][6] In 2010, agriculture, forestry and land-use change were estimated to contribute 20–25% of global annual emissions.[7] In 2020, the European Union‘s Scientific Advice Mechanism estimated that the food system as a whole contributed 37% of total greenhouse gas emissions, and that this figure was on course to increase by 30–40% by 2050 due to population growth and dietary change.[8]

A range of policies can reduce the risk of negative climate change impacts on agriculture[9][10] and greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture sector.[11][12][13]

To see the wiki on Climate Change and Agriculture, click here.

The Economic Resource Service (ERS) of the US Department of Agriculture conducts research on a range of climate change issues related to agriculture, including:

  • The impacts of climate change on crop and livestock production
  • The implications of climate change for agricultural markets and the cost of government policies/programs
  • The international land use implications of bioenergy and food production
  • The potential for agriculture to adapt to changing climate conditions
  • The potential within agriculture for mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions
  • The role of USDA farm programs under changing climate conditions
  • Drought resilience and risk management

Click here to access data on climate change from USDA.

Agriculture is an important sector of the U.S. economy. The crops, livestock, and seafood produced  in the United States contribute more than $300 billion to the economy each year.[1]  When food-service and other agriculture-related industries are included, the agricultural and food sectors contribute more than $750 billion to the gross domestic product.[2]

  • Moderate warming and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may help some plants to grow faster. However, more severe warming, floods, and drought may reduce yields.
  • Livestock may be at risk, both directly from heat stress and indirectly from reduced quality of their food supply.
  • Fisheries will be affected by changes in water temperature that make waters more hospitable to invasive species and shift the ranges or lifecycle timing of certain fish species.

For more information, click here to see Climate Impacts on Agriculture and Food Supply from the US EPA.