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What you should know about private pesticide applicator licensing process

SERIOUS BUSINESS: The Office of the Indiana State Chemist is charged with enforcing rules related to pesticide licensing and chemical application.
A recent U.S. EPA rule means only minor changes in Indiana, but you may want to refresh yourself on pesticide licensing procedures.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took a hard look at training and licensing procedures for private pesticide applicators. In the end, EPA only made minor changes that affect Indiana. However, the review process itself made it clear that if you aren’t fully aware of how pesticide applicator licensing works, you should be.

Dave Scott, pesticide administrator with the Office of the Indiana State Chemist, granted an exclusive interview with Indiana Prairie Farmer to explain what EPA did and didn’t do, and to provide a refresher about private pesticide applicator licensing.

IPF: Will the final rule EPA issued recently have a major effect on how Indiana handles private pesticide applicator training and licensing?

Scott: No. The final rule only includes a few things that will require tweaking of the process in Indiana. The biggest change is that you must now be 18 to hold a private pesticide applicator’s license. Indiana had no age requirement before, but the vast majority of people were 18 or older.

IPF: There was talk that the original rule EPA proposed could have required major changes. Is that true?

Scott: Yes. The original proposed rule contained specific requirements about the type of training that private pesticide applicators would have to take. Several groups in Indiana submitted comments during the review process as to why these changes weren’t necessary. Groups in other states did, as well. EPA took these comments into account, and the final rule contains significantly fewer restrictions on training.

IPF: Can you review what the certification process is for private pesticide applicators in Indiana?

Scott: It’s a five-year certification program. Once you have your private pesticide applicator’s license, you can keep it current by attending three approved Pesticide Applicators Recertification Program sessions within the five-year period. However, you aren’t allowed to take all three within one calendar year.

IPF: What if you don’t have a license but want to obtain one?

Scott: You must pass a test. It’s the same test that commercial applicators take as the first step to obtaining their license. There are various options for taking the test. We offer testing here once a month by appointment. There are also outlying sites where you can take the test for a fee. Learn about these options at

IPF: If several people are involved in a farming operation, does each person need a private pesticide applicator’s license to operate the sprayer?

Scott: No. There are provisions allowing one or more people in the operation who have their license to supervise others. However, certain stipulations must be followed. The rule talks about "physical presence" of the supervisor. That’s been interpreted to mean the supervisor must be within 30 miles of the person making the application. Only the person with the license can buy restricted-use pesticides. Also, the new federal rule does include training for noncertified applicators.  We will be addressing that soon.

IPF: Can I do custom spraying for a neighbor with my private pesticide applicator’s license?

Scott: No. Once you work for payment, you’re competing with commercial applicators, and you need to take the same training they take. You would need a commercial applicator's license.

IPF: What if my neighbor and I are just trading work?

Scott: Our experience says that’s rarely actually the case. If you’re spraying for someone else, you need a commercial permit. It requires more training, has a higher licensing fee of $45 and requires proof of insurance. The cost of the liability insurance is likely the biggest difference.    


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