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Certification program offered for private pesticide applicators

By D. Bruce Bosley
CSU Extension Agent/Cropping Systems

The Colorado Department of Agriculture now administers the certification program for private pesticide applicators. This program applies to all persons who use or supervise the use of restricted-use pesticides in the production of agricultural commodities on land owned or rented by him/her or their employer. Farmers, ranchers, and orchardists are common private applicators in Colorado. Colorado State Extension assists by offering training classes for people interested in becoming certified, or recertified.

Pesticides are classified in two categories: 1) general use and 2) restricted use. The common pesticides used around homes and gardens and sold in many hardware, garden centers, or large general retailers are general use pesticides. Restricted use pesticides have this classification stated prominently on the label and have special hazards to their use. These hazards may be due to acute human, avian, or aquatic invertebrate toxicity, or substantial adverse effects to the applicator or the environment. Many ag chemicals are general use pesticides.

People using only general use pesticides do not need certification as a private pesticide applicator. On the other hand, if one plans to use restricted use pesticides, he/she needs certification in order to buy, apply or supervise the application of this class of pesticide.

It follows that not all farmers or homeowners need certification as a private applicator, since many of the agricultural and most garden chemicals commonly used are classified as general use pesticides. Secondly, people have many good alternatives to choose from when controlling weeds and other field and pasture pests instead of using a restricted-use pesticide.

The certification process of becoming a private pesticide applicator starts with ordering the training manual and self-test exam from the Colorado Department of Agriculture. The Department of Agriculture requires payment of $20 to order the training manual and exam packet. People interested in certification must complete the application exam and return it to the CDA. They keep the training manual. People can also pick up this packet at Extension offices for $25.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture sends notification to people who have submitted an exam that they have or have not passed it. One can take the exam three times at no additional cost. Upon passing the exam, people will need to send an additional $75 licensing fee to become a certified private applicator. This licensing fee is also required each time a person renews their certification.

Certified private pesticide applicators will need to recertify every three years with the state. One can qualify for recertification by one of two methods: retaking the exam or attending classes offering certification credits. I and other Extension staff will be offering recertification classes each year for people interested in this second option. I will be giving classes next fall and winter for those people needing credits required for recertifying with Colorado Department of Agriculture.

The Environmental Protection Agency is no longer administrating this program. If you have an EPA certification card that is or soon to be expired, you must take the Colorado Department of Agriculture's certification testing program to use restricted use pesticides.

Please contact me if you would like more information. Call me in Sterling at 970-522-3200, ext. 285, or Fort Morgan at 970-542-3542.

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