Agriculture faces increased development in Cumberland County

CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) – Warrington Farm Meats received a grant from Cumberland County to grow their farm-to-table meat business, but we’re finding out they’re one of the lucky ones countywide.

In the 70s, the Joneses of Warrington Farm Meats in Carlisle and Dillsburg owned 100 acres of land – and that was enough.

“We moved up to farming on our own into the larger farms,” company vice president Marjie Jones said, “and the sons were interested in technology and marketing.”

Jones says things have changed. Their business is now 800 acres across the county and their competition is no longer farms down the road, but big box stores.

“Warehouses in our area taking over farmland,” Jones said. “There is a competition in crops, trying to find farm ground, trying to find the right niche in our area.”

Right now, 43 percent of Cumberland County is zoned for agriculture use and supports 1,400 farms. Years ago, it was much more.

“It’s just the pressure,” said Jonathan Bowser, CEO of Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation. “Cumberland County is the fastest growing county in the commonwealth. There’s good jobs here.”

But Bowser says the county does not plan to grow businesses and housing into more farmland for now.

“We plan to take on some properties that are currently in more urban areas to see if we can redevelop and/or reuse those sites,” he said.

The focus is not just maintaining, but expanding agribusiness, a billion dollar and historic industry in the county.

The Joneses are thankful for a loan from CAEDC, but they’re still skeptical.

“It’s a little frightening to know that you don’t really know when it’s coming out into the country further,” Jones said.

Seventy food and beverage companies in Cumberland County serve the whole East Coast. It’s an ideal location because of its highway access and fertile land. That’s why county leaders say it’s a worthwhile industry to support.

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