Attorney General Gives Tips on ACRE
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
HARRISBURG - Attorney General Kathleen Kane and Senior Deputy Attorney General (SDAG) Susan Bucknum addressed a seminar on the ACRE law and the Right to Farm Act during the Farm Show in January.
The ACRE law was passed in 2005 with the strong support of PLNA and other agriculture related organizations. The law helps to enforce the Right to Farm Act by authorizing the attorney general to review local government ordinances that violate the Right to Farm Act.
Before ACRE, if a local government passed an ordinance impairing your right to farm, you had to sue the local government and a long, expensive legal battle would ensue. Under ACRE, if the attorney general believes that the ordinance impairs your right to farm, the AG will sue the local government on your behalf. Most ACRE cases settle before they go to court.
Presentation by SDAG Bucknum
The bulk of the seminar was given by SDAG Bucknum, who has been a great advocate for ACRE and has provided much guidance and assistance to PLNA members who have brought ACRE cases. None of the ACRE cases that PLNA members have brought have gone to court. All have settled out of court.
PLNA Member Case
It was an ACRE case brought by a PLNA member that spawned the PLNA-backed legislation last year that clarified that high tunnels used to grow plants are not subject to the Uniform Construction Code. In that case, a PLNA member was being harassed by a local code enforcement officer who threatened to shut down their nursery if they didn’t bring their high tunnels up to the UCC requirements.
The attorney general sided with the PLNA member and the local government backed off. PLNA then sought the legislation to clarify explicitly that high tunnels growing plants are not subject to the UCC (see PLNA e-News article October 26, 2014).
The AG can Help
In many of these cases, simply getting the AG involved forces a recalcitrant local government to sit down and reasonably negotiate a settlement of the problem, whereas before ACRE a nursery or landscape company owner had little clout to force such a settlement.
PLNA Can Help
If you think that your local government is enforcing an ordinance that is affecting your right to farm, call (717.238.1673) or email Gregg Robertson at PLNA. We can review your case and provide advice on presenting your case to the attorney general.