American Farmland Trust Honors 2 Berks Ag Land Preservation Board Members

American Farmland Trust and the Pennsylvania Farmland Preservation Association Thursday announced Dr. Robert C. Ziegenfus and Victoria Kintzer, two charter members of the Berks County Agricultural Land Preservation Board, are winners of this year's Local Hero Award.

The award, which recognizes significant contributions to farmland preservation in Pennsylvania, was presented by Andrew McElwaine, AFT President and CEO, during the Association's Spring Conference in Reading.

"This year's winners of the Local Hero Award have helped provide the leadership needed to preserve over 67,954 acres of farmland and 679 farms in Berks County," said McElwaine.  "Their 25 year record is extraordinary.  Both are dedicated volunteers and passionate about protecting the one irreplaceable resource we need to grow food-- our farmland."

Dr. Ziegenfus, who has held a variety of college teaching positions and worked for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, volunteered not only his time, but his professional expertise in geography, land use, environmental planning and digital mapping to help build Berks County's farmland preservation program.

Victoria Kintzer, who was recently appointed a Director for the Greater Berks Food Bank, helped to not only guide the County's official farmland preservation program, but help develop a complementary Adopt An Acre Program for protecting farmland that did not meet all of the requirements to be part of the county's preservation program.

Both Kintzer and Dr. Ziegenfus supported major initiatives to accelerate farmland preservation in Berks County by helping to secure passage of a $33 million bond issue in 1999 and a $24 million line of credit in 2006 devoted to farmland protection.

"Much of the success of Pennsylvania's farmland preservation program is due to the commitment and expertise of volunteer Board Members," said Matt Knepper, President of the PA Farmland Preservation Association.  "Berks County is a leader in farmland preservation and a model and resource for other preservation programs across the state and nation.  The PA Farmland Preservation Association is proud to honor Dr. Ziegenfus and Ms. Kintzer for their contributions as Charter Members of the Berks County Agricultural Land Preservation Board."

"Since 1988 Pennsylvania has permanently preserved over 489,400 acres of farmland investing over $1.2 billion in state and local funds and is a national leader in farmland protection," said McElwaine.  "While we have seen a recent uptick in farmland preservation funding across the county, an AFT survey in January found we are still 39 percent below where we were in 2008. "

"We need more leaders like Victoria Kintzer and Dr. Ziegenfus all across the country to draw attention to the need to invest in farmland protection, because the world is facing a challenge it cannot ignore-- the need to double our food production by 2050," said McElwaine.

The American Farmland Trust is the nation's leading conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land.

American Farmland Trust will host the Farmland, Food and Livable Communities national conference in Lexington, Kentucky on October 20-22.


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