Protect farmland by coordinating state spending and permitting decisions
The Governor can minimize the conversion of farmland to developed land by requiring state agencies to better coordinate their spending and permitting. Sometimes, for example, an economic development agency might fund a sewer project or the Transportation Department might fund a new road that inadvertently encourages the development of prime agricultural land into an industrial park. By coordinating spending and permitting, governors and their department heads can dodge such unintended consequences.
In many cases, a Governor can improve coordination simply by directing the Department of Agriculture to review state infrastructure and permitting decisions that could lead to the conversion of prime farmland. If the Governor has created an Office of Smart Growth, a Growth Cabinet or an equivalent entity responsible for cross-agency collaboration on development issues (see Policies #7, Create a growth cabinet and #9, Create an office to coordinate growth issues in the Comprehensive Approaches section), that entity could include among its duties the review of other agencies' infrastructure and permitting decisions for their impact on farmland conversion. Under that arrangement, relevant agencies would regularly submit a list of anticipated infrastructure projects and permits to the growth coordinating agency, which in turn would identify instances where state actions might result in lost farmland and would recommend appropriate action. The Governor might also require that each agency update its funding criteria to assess whether its spending decisions might result in a loss of farmland. Any of these actions could likely be put in force by executive order or simply through a gubernatorial directive.
- Pennsylvania's Agriculture Land Preservation Policy
Gov. Edward Rendell issued an executive order in 2003 establishing the Pennsylvania Agriculture Land Preservation Policy, which requires all state agencies to review and amend their programs and actions to meet the goal of preserving prime farmland. Rendell designated Pennsylvania's Department of Agriculture as the lead agency to implement his order.
— Pennsylvania's Agriculture Land Preservation Policy