Lackawanna County Farm Preservation Program Reaches Milestone

SCOTT TOWNSHIP -- Preserving farms means protecting the future to a group of people in Lackawanna County.

On Friday, the county's farmland preservation program announced it reached a milestone by making sure one of the county's largest farms will stay a farm forever.

The view from the highest point of Mike Hillebrand's 300-acre cattle farm in Scott Township is breathtaking. But he says there is now something more important than the view.

"It will be farmland forever," said Hillebrand.

Hillebrand's Edgewood Farm was just designated Lackawanna County's 64th in its farmland preservation program.

"Those of us who have farms have an obligation to preserve them, to protect them, maintain them," Hillebrand added. "Take it away, it's gone. It will never be back."

The Hillebrands celebrated a landmark, as the cattle farm's designation now means 5,000 acres in Lackawanna County have been preserved for farmland.

Lackawanna County is second in the state when it comes to land set aside for farming. The program has spent almost $9 million since it began in 1994.

Farmers in the program get a one-time payment of up to $2,500 per acre and tax breaks from the deal.

For the county, it keeps farming viable and protected from development.

"This is a beautiful piece of property, but the way I look at it, it's a beautiful piece of property for farming, and for our family on a personal level to enjoy in its natural state," said Tom Hillebrand.

"I think it's more important personally that we protect our food source," said Mike Hillebrand.

Mike Hillebrand says it's critical to everyone that land be set aside to grow crops or raise livestock. In this case, it's white face Hereford cattle for steak.

He also said the preservation is good for his family, especially his son and grandsons.

"I'm hoping that they will continue to carry on what we're doing here."