Bucknum Law brings over 20 years of legal experience in a variety of practice areas to serve the agricultural industry. We have highlighted our primary legal services below. Contact us today to discuss services we offer in these and other areas of law. We deliver sound advice, creative solutions, and effective strategies to tackle your legal issues and achieve your goals.
State Permitting, Plans and Licensing
Many aspects of agricultural production require permits, plans or licenses that are issued or approved by various state agencies. State agencies administer regulatory programs that govern the information, content and technical standards required to obtain permits, plans or licenses in order to legally engage in regulated activities. Bucknum Law is well-versed in both the substantive requirements and real-world application of the statutory schemes, regulatory programs and numerous professional technical manuals that address agricultural and environmental issues for agricultural operations. We are skilled at navigating the complex regulatory landscape to help put permits in place.
Bucknum Law understands that in agriculture every project or farm expansion is unique to the specific operation and, thus, presents unique issues to address in obtaining applicable state approvals or plans. Bucknum Law provides the expertise to identify and evaluate potential legal issues at the outset of a project and develop effective strategies to address those issues to prevent delays and secure state approvals.
Obtaining a state permit, plan or license to legally engage in regulated activities is a necessary step for your business. The other necessary step is maintaining compliance with both the specific terms of the approved permit, plan or license, as well as, regulatory requirements generally applicable to agricultural operations. State agencies require operators to maintain proof of regulatory compliance, such as detailed record keeping, periodic submission of information, reporting of incidents and submitting to on-site inspections.
The failure to maintain compliance can lead to enforcement action by the state agencies, including imposition of fines and other penalties. Bucknum Law will advise on maintaining regulatory compliance and defend against compliance issues raised by state agencies. Our relationships with state agency personnel and environmental experts in the field make Bucknum Law uniquely suited to handle compliance issues and enforcement actions.
Zoning, Land Development and Stormwater Management
Municipal zoning and land development ordinances are complex and challenging to navigate. When an agricultural operator seeks to make changes, expansions, or additions to production operations, it can trigger the need for local government approvals, permits or plans. Bucknum Law brings a unique and in depth experience to understanding municipal ordinance requirements and knows what requirements municipalities may and may not impose on agricultural operations.
Bucknum Law’s understanding of the real-world aspects of many different forms of agricultural production in combination with its knowledge and experience of local ordinances provides a solid foundation to help agricultural operators obtain municipal approvals. Bucknum Law is committed to ensuring that agricultural operators are treated fairly through the process of obtaining municipal approvals or dealing with other local ordinance compliance issues.
Bucknum Law can assist you in dealing with municipal government in variety of areas, including:
- Conditional use approval
- Special exception approval
- Variance approval
- Subdivision and Land Development
- Stormwater Management
- Uniform Construction Code
- Direct sales of agricultural commodities
- Activity specific ordinances (ex: biosolids and timber harvesting)
Agricultural Communities and the Rural Environment (ACRE)
Bucknum Law’s principal, Susan, is the attorney that single handedly built the statewide ACRE program for the Office of Attorney General. Susan brings an unparalleled skill set in representing agricultural operators when a local government attempts to impose illegal requirements on an agricultural operation, which is forbidden under the ACRE law. Bucknum Law knows the broad range of issues presented to and decided by the Office of Attorney General under the ACRE program over the years. As a result, Bucknum Law is uniquely qualified to submit detailed and thorough ACRE requests to the Office of Attorney General on behalf of a client.
In addition, the ACRE law provides for a private right of action to be brought by “any person who is aggrieved by the enactment or enforcement of an unauthorized local ordinance” in order to invalidate or enjoin the enforcement of the unauthorized local ordinance. 3 Pa. C.S. § 315. Bucknum Law possesses the know-how to bring a private ACRE action against a municipality in order to expedite a resolution and allow an agricultural operator to move forward with projects without having to satisfy illegal local ordinance requirements. ACRE provides for a potential award of reasonable attorney fees and other litigation costs incurred in bringing a private ACRE action.
Bucknum Law has extensive experience working with municipal officials to ensure that requirements imposed on agricultural operations do not violate state law. We provide the following consulting services to municipalities:
- Evaluating the legality of existing ordinances
- Drafting proposed ordinance amendment packages
- Ensuring compliance with the requirements of the Municipalities Planning Code
- Addressing concerns of local residents with agricultural operations
- Providing education and guidance on regulatory requirements for agricultural production operations
- Connecting municipal officials with agricultural or environmental experts to educate and inform them on sustainable and best management practices for various agricultural production operations
- Providing specialized counsel to municipal solicitors on agricultural issues
- Evaluating ordinances that are the subject of an ACRE review by the Office of Attorney General
- Evaluating other case specific legal issues
Bucknum Law prides itself on providing creative and informed legal guidance and advice to assist municipal officials in resolving local conflict with agricultural operations and regulating agricultural uses in a manner consistent with the extent of statutory municipal authority.
Bucknum Law appreciates that an agricultural operator seeking to expand operations, engage in new agricultural practices, or pursue other changes in operations can lead to the unintended consequence of opposition by local residents. We have experience addressing concerns of local residents regarding changes to or expansions of agricultural operations. Bucknum Law can partner with the agricultural operator or municipality to develop an effective approach using mediation techniques to resolve disputes and misunderstandings in an amicable fashion.
Bucknum Law brings over 20 years of complex litigation experience to the service of its clients. This experience includes litigating cases in county, state and federal courts throughout Pennsylvania as well as courts in other states. Susan has litigated cases in many different areas of law throughout her career, including such areas as:
- contract disputes
- business torts
- product liability
- personal injury
- property disputes
- insurance coverage claims
- civil rights
- local zoning issues
Susan is a skillful litigator that has represented businesses and individuals on both the plaintiff and defendant side of lawsuits seeking monetary and non-monetary damages. Susan’s experience spans from the filing of a lawsuit through discovery, trial and appeals. She has the expertise to develop effective litigation strategies from the outset and to continually evaluate strategies throughout the development of the litigation in order to obtain the most favorable results for the client.
Bucknum Law provides detail oriented legal advice and exceptional expertise in thinking “outside the box” to provide creative strategic solutions for the legal challenges faced by our clients. Our clients are also well-served with Susan’s specialized background in advanced brief writing and appellate work.
Contact Us Today
Whether you wish to speak to someone about an existing case or dispute or would like to explore your options for a potential situation, please give our firm a call and we will be happy to assist you. Phone or contact us