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ACRE/Pennsylvania Act 38

Center Resources

Research Publications:

Agricultural Law Brief Articles:

Statutes

Pennsylvania:

Pennsylvania statutes are accessible online through the Unofficial Purdon’s Pennsylvania Statutes website. Be aware that this information is subject to change as a result of subsequent amendments. Please consult an attorney if you are in need of the most up-to-date statutory information.

Case Law

Some of these cases may be available at a law library or accessible online for those with LexisNexis, Westlaw, or other electronic database accounts.

Commonwealth v. Packer Township:

  • The Attorney General brought an action against Packer Township, Carbon County, on Aug. 18, 2009. The Attorney General challenged the validity of a township ordinance that regulated “biosolid land application” and prohibited “biosolid land application by corporations,” arguing that it was violative of ACRE.
    • Commonwealth Court Docket Sheets
    • Commonwealth Court Decisions
      • Commonwealth v. Packer Twp., 2012 WL 2849494 (Pa. Commw. Ct. July 12, 2012) (denying on all counts Township’s motion for summary judgment assertion that (1) ACRE was unconstitutional and violated the rights of local residents to self-government; (2) the Attorney general was prevented from brining an action because the challenge to the local ordinance did not involve an affected complainant; (3) the Township’s ordinance ban on corporate sludging and community bill of rights should be removed from the Attorney General’s challenge).
      • Commonwealth v. Packer Twp., No. 432 M.D. 2009 (Pa. Commw. Ct. Mar. 17, 2010) (granting the Attorney General’s Motion for summary relief with respect to the amendment removing the authority of the Attorney General to enforce any state law that removes authority from the people of the Township).
      • Commonwealth v. Packer Twp., No. 432 M.D. 2009 (Pa. Commw. Ct. Jan. 6, 2010) (overruling preliminary objections filed by Packer Township).

Commonwealth v. Peach Bottom Township:

  • The Attorney General brought an action against Peach Bottom Township, York County, on Aug.12, 2009. The Attorney General challenged the validity of a township ordinance that regulated “concentrated animal operations and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAOs/CAFOs), a proposed amendment to the existing CAO/CAFO ordinance, and an ordinance regulating below ground manure storage facilities,” arguing that it was violative of ACRE.

Commonwealth v. East Brunswick Township:

  • The Attorney General brought an action against East Brunswick Township, Schuylkill County, on Oct. 3, 2007. The Attorney General challenged the validity of a township ordinance that regulated the application of biosolids, arguing that it was violative of ACRE. The case was settled and discontinued on Nov. 19, 2009.
  • Commonwealth Court Decisions
    • Commonwealth v. E. Brunswick Twp., 980 A.2d 720 (Pa. Commw. Ct. Aug. 21, 2009) (sustaining Township’s preliminary objection that 2008 Ordinance is not a zoning ordinance, and thus not violative of the Municipalities Planning Code; denying Township’s other preliminary objections because Attorney General stated a claim in each of the counts in its amended petition; denying Township’s motion to strike exhibits attached to Attorney General’s brief because exhibits did not amend the pleading or constitute the basis for the action; granting Attorney General’s motion to strike Township’s reply brief as untimely). 
    • Commonwealth v. E. Brunswick Twp., 956 A.2d 1100 (Pa. Commw. Ct. Sept. 23, 2008) (holding that ACRE is a constitutional act; Attorney General was not granted summary judgment because it was not clear whether the application of sewage sludge constituted a “normal agricultural operation” under the Act).

Commonwealth v. Belfast Township:

  • The Attorney General brought an action against Belfast Township, Fulton County, on Oct. 26, 2006. The Attorney General challenged the validity of a township ordinance that prohibited “corporate ownership of farms,” arguing that it was violative of ACRE. The case was settled and discontinued on Feb. 20, 2007.

Boswell v. Skippack Township:

  • A private party action was asserted against Skippack Township, Montgomery County, on July 14, 2006. The owner challenged a township ordinance that was applied to prohibit the use of a propane cannon to repel deer.
    • Commonwealth Court Docket Sheets
    • Commonwealth Court Decisions
      • Boswell v. Skippack Twp., No. 389 M.D. 2006 (Pa. Commw. Ct. June 28, 2012) (Commonwealth Court denies post-trial motions and upholds ruling that township ordinance preventing use of sound device, designed to protect tree farm from deer damage, did not violate ACRE).

Commonwealth v. Locust Township:

  • The Attorney General brought an action against Locust Township, Columbia County, on June 29, 2006. The Attorney General challenged the validity of a township ordinance that regulated “Intensive Animal Agriculture,” arguing that it was violative of ACRE.
    • Supreme Court Docket Sheets
    • Supreme Court Decisions
    • Commonwealth Court Docket Sheets
    • Commonwealth Court Decisions
      • Commonwealth v. Locust Township, 2012 WL 2912024 (Pa. Commw. Ct. July 17, 2012) (granting the Attorney General partial summary judgment on two ordinance challenges: (1) finding that small farmers, currently exempt under state law, were improperly required to submit and implement emergency and response nutrient management plans, and (2) local water requirements were in excess of state law. The Court denied summary judgment as to the remaining claims and counts).
      • Commonwealth v. Locust Twp., 915 A.2d 738 (Pa. Commw. Ct. Jan. 25, 2007) (finding Municipalities Planning Code and Agricultural Code do not conflict; Attorney General cannot challenge a local ordinance that preexisted ACRE unless petitioner alleges township attempted to apply or enforce ordinance), rev’d in part, 968 A.2d 1263 (Pa. Apr. 29, 2009).

Commonwealth v. Heidelberg Township:

  • The Attorney General brought an action against the townships of Heidelberg, North Heidelberg, and the boroughs of Robesonia and Womelsdorf in Bucks County on June 29, 2006. The suit challenged the validity of a joint ordinance regulating “intensive raising of livestock or poultry,” arguing that it was violative of ACRE.
    • Supreme Court Docket Sheets
    • Supreme Court Decisions
    • Commonwealth Court Docket Sheets
    • Commonwealth Court Decisions
      • Commonwealth v. Heidelberg Twp., No. 357 M.D. 2006 (Pa. Commw. Ct. Dec. 12, 2006) (holding that the Attorney General cannot challenge a local ordinance that preexisted ACRE unless petitioner alleges that the township attempted to apply or enforce the ordinance), aff’d per curiam, 934 A.2d 699 (Pa. Nov. 21, 2007), vacated, 984 A.2d 477 (Pa. Nov. 10, 2009).(Note: This case was vacated based on the ruling in Commonwealth v. Locust Twp., 968 A.2d 1263 (Pa. Apr. 29, 2009)).

Commonwealth v. Lower Oxford Township:

  • The Attorney General brought action against Lower Oxford Township in Chester County, in June of 2006. The suit challenged the validity of a zoning ordinance regulating commercial mushroom composting facilities, arguing that it was violative of ACRE.
    • Supreme Court Docket Sheets
    • Supreme Court Decisions
    • Commonwealth Court Docket Sheets
    • Commonwealth Court Decisions
      • Commonwealth v. Lower Oxford Twp., 915 A.2d 685 (Pa. Commw. Ct. Dec. 12, 2006) (finding Municipalities Planning Code and Agricultural Code do not conflict; challenge to ordinance unauthorized unless petitioner alleges that the township attempted to apply or enforce the ordinance), aff’d per curiam, 934 A.2d 699 (Pa. Nov. 21, 2007), vacated, 984 A.2d 477 (Pa. Nov. 10, 2009). (Note: This case was vacated based on the ruling in Commonwealth v. Locust Twp., 968 A.2d 1263 (Pa. Apr. 29, 2009)). 

Commonwealth v. Richmond Township:

  • The Attorney General brought an action against Richmond Township, Berks County, on June 29, 2006. The Attorney General challenged the validity of a township ordinance that regulated “intensive agricultural activity,” arguing that it was violative of ACRE.
    • Commonwealth Court Docket Sheets 
    • Commonwealth Court Decisions
      • Commonwealth v. Richmond Twp., 360 M.D. 2006 (Pa. Commw. Ct. Aug. 10, 2010) (ordering that the May 28, 2010 memorandum opinion be listed as a reported opinion).
      • Commonwealth v. Richmond Twp., 360 M.D. 2006 (Pa. Commw. Ct. May 28, 2010) (granting the Attorney General’s motion for summary judgment; ruling that Richmond Township is enjoined from enforcing the provisions of the Township Zoning Ordinance relating to intensive agriculture).
      • Commonwealth v. Richmond Twp., 360 M.D. 2006, 2009 WL 1424112 (Pa. Commw. Ct. May 22, 2009) (dismissing a motion for judgment on the pleadings filed by Richmond Township; ruling that factual issues remained to be resolved).
      • Commonwealth v. Richmond Twp., 917 A.2d 397 (Pa. Commw. Ct. Feb. 20, 2007) (finding Municipalities Planning Code does not conflict with ACRE because Municipalities Planning Code provides for administrative appeals by land owners while ACRE applies to original actions by the Attorney General).
         

Legislative Activity

For an explanation to facilitate reading of legislative bills click here.

Enacted Pennsylvania Legislation (2005-2006 Session):

  • House Bill 1646: An Act amending Title 3 (Agriculture) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes (providing for a prohibition against unauthorized local government unit actions; establishing a cause of action for unauthorized enactment or enforcement of local ordinances governing normal agricultural operations; providing for duties of the Attorney General and for hearings; consolidating the Nutrient Management Act; providing for manure application; further providing for nutrient management and odor management certification; providing for odor management plans; further providing for the Nutrient Management Advisory Board, for financial assistance, for unlawful conduct, for civil penalties and for local preemption; providing for other statutes and for regulations; and making a related repeal).
  • Legislative Debates:

Unenacted Pennsylvania Legislation (2003-2004 Session):

  • House Bill 1222: An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes (further providing for identification of incorrect debtor; further defining "other specified offense" for purposes of DNA data and testing; further providing for summary offenses involving vehicles, for law enforcement records, for duration of commitment and review; establishing a cause of action for unauthorized enactment or enforcement of local ordinances governing agricultural operations; providing for certain attorney fees and costs; and further providing for sentence of intermediate punishment and for assessments).

Unenacted Pennsylvania Legislation (2001-2002 Session):

  • Senate Bill 1413: An Act amending the act of June 10, 1982 (P.L.454, No.133), entitled "An act protecting agricultural operations from nuisance suits and ordinances under certain circumstances" (further providing for limitation on local ordinances).
  • Senate Bill 406: An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes (establishing a cause of action for unauthorized enactment or enforcement of local ordinances governing agricultural operations; and providing for certain attorney fees and costs).

Government Agencies

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture:

Pennsylvania Attorney General:

Publications

Some of these articles may be available at a law library or accessible online for those with LexisNexis, Westlaw, or other electronic database accounts. Some hyperlinks may only be available for those users with access to HeinOnline.

Law Review Articles:

Other Publications:

Links