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Pa. sees drop in farmland acreage

UNIVERSITY PARK — The number of acres of farmland in Pennsylvania fell by 6% between 2012 and 2017, according to Penn State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

The drop occurred at a time when the state’s prime farming regions were experiencing population growth that may create long-term challenges for producers, according to one conclusion in a new report from the college’s Center for Economic and Community Development.

“Where the Soybeans Grow: An Exploration of Agricultural Land Use in Pennsylvania, 2017” is based on data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2017 Census of Agriculture.

The report is part of a series, “Understanding Pennsylvania Agriculture: 2017 Update,” which explores various aspects of the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The ag census is compiled every five years, and the 2017 census results were released in 2019.

According to the report, Pennsylvania is the 32nd largest state in terms of total land area with more than 28.6 million acres, about 25% of which — nearly 7.3 million acres — is farmland. The agricultural land is grouped into four categories defined by USDA: cropland, woodland, pastureland and “other land” dedicated to farming purposes.

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