Pennsylvania Farm Laws Hijacked By Developers

Designed to stop sprawl and preserve farmland, two state tax breaks to farmers are actually fueling further expansion. Much 'farmland' is already developed, yet still gets write-offs.
July 14, 2004, 1pm PDT | Jeffrey Goodman
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The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's investigation of local 'farmland' found some startling facts: of the thousands of acres listed as farmland on the tax rolls, only six percent is owned by farmers. In fact, of the 75,000 acres of 'farmland' getting tax benefits in Allegheny County, the Dept. of Agriculture's figures only 33,000 acres are actual used for farming. The rest of the land is already developed or owned by real estate groups. The result is millions of dollars in lost revenue through tax breaks to upper-income suburbs. Developers can pave over every acre without penalty because, under the same laws, the value of farmland cannot be reassessed until subdivided for sale.

Thanks to Jeffrey Goodman

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Published on Monday, July 12, 2004 in Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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