Farmworker Housing

Agriculture has a long history in Chester County, and it continues to be vitally important to both the County's economy and culture. As determined in the 2008 Penn State Economic Impact Study, Chester County ranks second among Pennsylvania counties in agricultural production. The County's 61 mushroom farms account for 47 percent of total U.S. mushroom production and contribute an estimated $2.7 billion to the local economy including sales, farm employment, taxes paid by farms, and the value of service industries that support mushroom farms. Chester County's dairy farms rank fifth in dairy revenue generation in Pennsylvania with total farm revenue in 2007 of $68 million, representing 12.3% of the value of total agricultural products sold in the County. Dairy farms in 28 County municipalities contribute an estimated economic impact of more than $247 million, with 85% of the money spent within the local community. More information is available through the Agricultual Development Council.

Chester County's mushroom production represents by far the largest contributor to the County's agricultural economy, and mushroom farm workers face specific challenges regarding access to quality housing. In order to sustain the long-term viability of agricultural operations in Chester County, municipalities in agricultural, rural, and suburban municipalities should ensure access to quality, affordable housing to accommodate farm workers and their families through local comprehensive plans, zoning regulations and subdivision and land development ordinances.

Advantages

Farmworker housing provisions in municipal land use plans and ordinances can provide the following benefits:

Limitations

The following limitations may be associated with farmworker housing ordinances:

Implementation

Examples

Municipalities that have specifically addressed farmworker housing in the Housing Plan components of their comprehensive plan include the following:

Municipalities that have incorporated specific provisions for farmworker housing in their zoning ordinance include the following:

Related References

Related Tools

Landscapes2 Relevance

One of the primary goals of Landscapes2, the 2009 Chester County Comprehensive Plan is to "provide diverse and affordable housing options countywide, consistent with the principles of Smart Growth and sustainability, to meet the needs of all households." Decent, affordable housing for farm laborers is required in order to support the continuing success of mushroom growing, crop agriculture, and equine operations in the County, and improving housing opportunities for migrant and year-round agricultural workers is a primary objective of Landscapes2. Additionally, this tool promotes energy conservation, which is one of the primary objectives of Landscapes2, because it supports local housing for workers in proximity to their place of employment.