Agriculture District Programs: The First 50 Years. Will They Survive Another 50?


Perhaps the oldest tool for protecting farmland, and the viability of farming operations against development pressures, remains the local creation of “Agricultural Districts.”  Although referred to using differing terminology and having varying attributes in the authorizing statutes of individual states, the common features that predominate state Agricultural District Programs and laws are the authority to locally create geographic areas within a political subdivision in which agricultural uses receive a package of unique benefits geared to promote the continuation of agricultural use of that property by minimizing threats and maximizing benefits to do so. These benefits include such things as protection from public or private nuisance claims, extra substantive and procedural requirements as a prerequisite to the use of eminent domain, preferential property tax provisions, and even mandated notifications at closing to new neighboring landowners inside or adjacent to the district. This webinar will:

(a) recap the development of various forms of agricultural district programs and the benefits conferred on lands located within;

(b) outline the states which have enacted such laws and how they have been expanded, or contracted, over the years;

(c) compare the various concepts employed and benefits conferred in the sixteen states that currently have such programs; and

(d) briefly discuss the future of such programs in the changing world of the 2020s.


Time and Date:


 Wednesday, July 15th, 2020

12:00 – 1:00 (EDT)


This webinar is offered free of charge and is limited to the first 100 registrants. It is recommended that you test your computer for software compatibility prior to the webinar by clicking here.

This webinar was recorded on July 15th, 2020. To view a recording of this webinar, please click here. 


Brook Duer, Staff Attorney, Penn State Center for Agricultural and Shale Law 

Brook Duer joined Penn State Law’s Center for Agricultural and Shale Law in 2019 after serving as Chief Counsel to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) for over seven years, and was with PDA as an attorney for a total of over 11 years.  Prior to that, Brook practiced law in Lancaster County for seventeen years in various firms/partnerships going back to 1989, mostly in civil litigation and representing farmers and all manner of ag-related clients including plain sect clients.  Brook graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1985 and received his law degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1989.

Research & Materials:

PowerPoint Presentation