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Pennsylvania Right to Farm Act

Publication of the Center for Agricultural and Shale Law

About Cases

The following resources represent a collection of Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Pennsylvania Superior Court, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, and Pennsylvania Courts of Common Pleas decisions regarding the Pennsylvania Right to Farm Act. While the Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center makes every effort to provide all relevant court opinions, this list is not exhaustive. Furthermore, it may be necessary to view certain decisions via an online legal research database or at the courthouse where an opinion was rendered.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Cases

Gilbert v. Synagro Central, LLC, No. 121 MAP 2014 (Pa. Supreme Ct. 2015)

  • Holding that: 1) § 954(a) of the Pennsylvania Right to Farm Act (RTFA), 3 P.S. §§ 951 – 957, contains a one-year statute of repose barring nuisance suits, and application of the one-year statute of repose is a question of law for courts to decide; and 2) the land application of biosolids as fertilizer meets RTFA’s definition of a “normal agricultural operation.”

 

Gilbert v. Synagro Central, LLC, 101 A.3d 1149 (Mem) (Pa. Supreme Ct. 2014).

  • Granting Petition for Appeal regarding whether the Superior Court incorrectly interpreted the Right to Farm Act by requiring a jury trial to determine if the application of biosolids was included under the definition of a “normal agricultural operation”.

Pennsylvania Superior Court Cases

Gilbert v. Synagro Central, LLC, 90 A.3d 37 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2014).

  • Finding that substantial change in an agricultural operation creating a nuisance does not eliminate the one-year statute of repose, but merely causes the one-year statute of repose to reset and start at the time of the substantial change. Also, finding that summary judgment was not proper because issues of material fact exist as to whether the application biosolids is a normal agricultural operation). 

Horne v. Haladay, 728 A.2d 954 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1999).

  • Finding that a suit must be filed within one year of lawful inception of business operation or substantial change to the business.
  • Case summary created by the Center for Agricultural and Shale Law.

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court

Commonwealth v. Locust Twp., 49 A.3d 502 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2012).

  • Finding that an ordinance establishing a 60-acre minimum lot size for an intensive animal agricultural operation did not violate the Right to Farm Act, because the ordinance did not declare or prohibit a public nuisance, but instead, simply amended the township’s zoning code that defined a use and established where, and under what conditions, a use was permitted.

Corbett v. Richmond Twp., 2 A.3d 678 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2010).

  • Finding that an ordinance “which requires that solid and liquid wastes be disposed of daily in a manner to avoid creating a public nuisance” violates section 3(a) of the Right to Farm Act.

Wellington Farms, Inc. v. Twp. of Silver Springs, 679 A.2d 267 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 1996)

  • Finding Right to Farm Act did not protect poultry slaughterhouse.

Tinicum Twp. v. Nowicki, 99 A.3d 586 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2014).

  • Holding that when "none of the raw materials from the mulching operation are produced on the Property and none of the resulting mulch is used for the production of livestock, crops, or agricultural commodities on the Property, the mulching operation is not a 'normal agricultural operaton' as defined by Section 2 of the Right to Farm Act."

Pennsylvania Courts of Common Pleas

Remaley v. Zook, No. CV 580-2007 (Snyder Ct. Com. Pl. Apr. 29, 2009) (holding that odor from poultry farm did not constitute a nuisance as a matter of law).

  •   Denying motion for post-trial relief.
  • Order denying Motion for Post-Trial Relief.

In re: Robinson, No. 03-10662, 2005 Pa. D. & C. LEXIS 337 (Montgomery Ct. Com. Pl. Nov. 18, 2005).

  • Finding there must be sufficient evidence to show an activity meets the statute’s definition of “farming” for the Right to Farm Act to apply).

  In re: Burger, 17 Pa. D. & C.4th 280 (Bucks Ct. Com. Pl. 1992).

  • Finding that a zoning ordinance was not considered a nuisance ordinance under the Right to Farm Act.