It was my pleasure to attend the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s 40th annual Agricultural Industry Banquet on Thursday, November 10.  The banquet is always a great opportunity to see many of the thousands of people involved in Lancaster County agriculture.  This includes not only the farmers, but people like equipment and feed suppliers, insurance carriers, accountants, bankers and even attorneys who support Lancaster County farmers and agriculture every day. 
Continue Reading Lancaster Agricultural Industry Banquet Highlights

Last month the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Ag Issues Forum was certainly informational.  Less than twelve hours before the  meeting, torrential flooding closed a portion of Route 30 for two hours and opened a three foot wide sinkhole in the highway.  Twelve hours later, the topic of the Ag Issues Forum was storm water management regulations.

The speakers for the month were Jim Caldwell of Rettew, Inc. and Peter Hughes of Red Barn Consulting. Jim and Peter discussed the history of storm water management regulations, both in general and specifically how they relate to agricultural projects.

Jim and Peter both discussed that the DEP’s Storm Water Management Manual does not have special regulations or Best Management Practices (BMPs) that relate to specifically to agricultural projects.  As a result, construction on a fifty acre farm needs the same kind of storm water basins as a two hundred house residential development or a strip mall. Obviously the concerns about storm water, and the ability to manage storm water, are different for these different situations.
Continue Reading Storm Water Management in Lancaster County

CowsAnother title for this post could have been “Are my cows violating your constitutional rights?”   In less than two years, the Pennsylvania Courts have made two rulings that greatly affect all environmental issues in the State.  Although the Courts did not specifically talk about farming, it is likely these decisions will impact farming projects.

In Robinson Township v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court made a landmark decision about how governmental entities look at environmental issues.  Robinson Township was a challenge to Act 13 of 2012, which gave overwhelming rights to oil and gas companies, particularly in the Marcellus Shale regions. Article I, § 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution provides that:

The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and aesthetic values of the environment.  Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court started by saying that this section of the Constitution is “inherent in man’s nature and preserved rather than created by the Pennsylvania Constitution.”  This means that environmental rights are comparable to your freedom of speech, or your right to pursue happiness.
Continue Reading Do Livestock Need to Know Constitutional Law? The Effect of Court Rulings on PA Farm Projects