Washington, D.C., May 3, 2012 —Neal and Shirley Murphy of Polk Township, Penn. were named winners of American Farmland Trust’s Pennsylvania Farmland Preservation Local Heroes Award. The award recognizes outstanding efforts to further the mission of the Pennsylvania Farmland Preservation Association by protecting the farms, natural resources and waters of the Commonwealth.
One of Monroe County’s longest standing farm families, Neal and Shirley Murphy took over the family farm from Neal’s parents Earl and Mabel Murphy is 1964. The farm has been in existence since 1840 and was the old homestead to Peter and Emma Bolinger. Previously a dairy and hog farm, Murphy Farms has been a hay and grain operation since 1990. The Murphy’s sons Mike and Steve work on the family farm, along with Steve’s two sons Tucker and Scott.
As early advisors and champions of Monroe County’s Farmland Preservation Program, the Murphys placed an agricultural conservation easement on their original homestead in 1995. Since then, the Murphys sold an easement on one additional property and purchased a property subject to a conservation easement. The Murphy’s son Steve and their daughter Terry have also sold conservation easements on their farms.
“The Murphys are one of the region’s most dedicated and vocal farm families, said Christine Dettore, Monroe County Planning Commission acting director and administrator of the Monroe County Farmland Preservation Program. “They have set a powerful example for other farmers by selling the development rights to their own farm, as well as much of the land that they lease.”
“This award honors the people who make Pennsylvania a nationwide leader in farmland protection, said Jim Baird, Mid-Atlantic director for American Farmland Trust. “The Murphys are an extraordinary farm family who contribute long hours, expertise, and enormous economic investment to preserve their land from unplanned development while strengthening their local economy and the environment.”
The award is given by American Farmland Trust in conjunction with Pennsylvania Farmland Preservation Association (PFPA), a non-profit, nonpartisan statewide association of farmland preservation professionals dedicated to promoting and enhancing the interests of agricultural land preservation in Pennsylvania. PFPA provides technical training to develop skills and resources for the organization’s members, promotes standards among the farmland preservation sector, and provides comments on programs, regulations and legislation. Their semiannual meetings are held in spring and fall, hosted by different county farmland preservation boards.
Presentation of the Pennsylvania Farmland Preservation Local Heroes Award coincided with the Pennsylvania Land Trust Alliance’s 10th annual Land Conservation Conference. During the evening, land conservation advocates addressed successes and looming challenges to Pennsylvania’s farms and conservation lands.