YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — Jim May, one of the owners of the century-old Dual Valley Overlook Farm in Felton, York County, doesn’t know precisely what the farm will be producing a century from now.

But he knows what the farm won’t be.

“It can’t be a strip mall or any kind of a residential subdivision or housing development,” he said.

That’s because Dual Valley is one of the newest farms in a farmland preservation program, funded by state and county governments — York County, in Dual Valley’s case — leveraging federal funding. Municipalities sometimes participate too.

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Dual Valley was one of six York County farms that learned this month they will share $878,686 in state and $357,782 in county investment funds.

The program, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding explained, dates back a quarter of a century, and the state’s portion originally came from a bond issue. Now, much of the money — about $20 million annually — comes from cigarette taxes. Other funds, he said, come from an environmental stewardship program.

The state doesn’t take any ownership in the farms, which remain in private hands. In fact, not much changes at the farms. And that’s the point. So what does the government get?

“A covenant that each of these farms have entered with the county and with the state,” Redding said. “These farms are preserved forever. They are farms forever.”

Redding said since the program’s inception, the state has managed to make more than 600,000 acres on more than 66,000 farms off-limits for development.

May said he and his co-owners started the highly-competitive application process four years ago. Some of the questions program officers asked?

“‘Do you have a valid conservation plan that’s monitored annually?'” May said, characterizing the questions. “‘What type of soil do you have? How productive is that soil? How many acres are being preserved?'”