Florida has a booming entomological clade and insects are inevitable nearly everywhere you turn. From protecting our homes, offices, fields and crops, pesticides are often our only line of defense against the damage these pests bring. But did you know that many of these pesticides require a pesticide applicator license to lawfully apply? Pesticide licensing is a federal mandate and any restricted use pesticide or even just specific application locations, such as in or around dwellings, would require a licensed pesticide applicator to apply. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) is the agency in charge of pesticide licensing. There are many various license types depending on what you are trying to spray with pesticide. In the case of utilizing restricted use pesticides to produce agriculture commodities, the licensing falls under the regulation of Florida State Chapter 487. In Chapter 487 licensing, there are 3 main types of licenses: private, public, and commercial licenses.
Many agriculture farmers will only need a private applicator license. This will allow the farmer, or employee, to apply restricted use pesticides via ground application on property owned or rented by the farm business or license holder to produce an agriculture commodity. In order to become licensed as a private applicator, you must take 2 separate exams: the general standards (CORE) exam and the private applicator exam. Exams can be taken at your local UF/IFAS Extension office or online through the Everblue testing platform. Restricted use pesticide licenses are valid for four years and require continuing education units (CEU’s) for renewal. To renew a private applicator license, you must earn 4 CORE CEUs and 4 Private applicator CEUs, or retake the corresponding certification exams in the CEU area missing. You have up to a year post expiration to complete your renewal process.
The less common agriculture public applicator license is a special license required for employees of county, state, local, or other governmental agency and apply restricted use pesticides on the job. This license type is only valid for the work performed for the government agency and is not valid outside of this work. License terminates upon end of employment. This license must choose specific categories in which to specialize and receive their license in. They are only able to use pesticides in the manner specific to the categories they are licensed in. Public applicators are required to take a minimum of 2 separate exams: the general standards (CORE) exam and an exam for each category that will be on the license.
A commercial applicator is any person using restricted use pesticides in agriculture or any related area for any purpose other than the other license classifications. A commercial license may substitute for a private or public license under most circumstances. Commercial applicators must also choose specific categories to receive their license in. A commercial applicator may have many separate categories depending on the types of jobs they are required to do. For example, if the commercial applicator is licensed in commercial row crop applications, they may apply pesticides to row crops owned by someone else but may not apply restricted pesticides to that same owner’s landscape or ornamentals without another separate licensing category. CEU requirements for renewal of both private and commercial are the same. Everyone must have 4 CEUs in CORE and 8 CEUs in each category licensed for renewal.
For more information on pesticide licensing, contact your local extension office. Training for all agriculture related categories is handled by the extension service. Most primary training and reference materials may be purchased from the UF IFAS bookstore at http://ifasbooks.ifas.ufl.edu/c-114-pesticide-exam-study-materials.aspx