HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania's nationally recognized farmland preservation program has added 1,469 acres of prime farmland on 16 farms, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced.

Beef and hog farms preserved in this latest move include: Adams County, the Rick and Wanda Spahr farm, a 104-acre crop and livestock operation; Huntingdon County, the Matthew Metz farm, a 100-acre beef operation; Lehigh Country, the Timothy and Teresa Billig farm, an 89-acre crop and hog operation; and Susquehanna County, the Scott and Betty Hall farm, an 89-acre beef operation.

"Pennsylvania is the national leader in farmland preservation, and today 16 more families protected their land from development, ensuring it will continue to be farmed for many generations," said Agriculture Secretary George Greig. "I thank these families for their commitment to keeping our agriculture industry and economy growing."

During the program's 23-year history, 451,994 acres on 4,173 farms have been safeguarded for future generations.

The state's farmland preservation efforts work through the Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program, which was developed in 1988 to help slow the loss of prime farmland to non-agricultural uses. The program enables state, county and local governments to purchase conservation easements, also called development rights, from owners of quality farmland.

State, county and local governments have invested more than $1.1 billion to preserve farms since the program began.