Voluntary training available to Prairie farmers, mandatory for custom applicators
Posted: May 26, 2005
All prairie producers have access to voluntary pesticide training courses, but so far there are no plans to adopt versions of Ontario and B.C.'s mandatory training systems, which have operated for decades.
All Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba farmers buying pesticides for their own use, who don't contract out their services, do not require a pesticide application certificate, explains Vivianne Servant, with Alberta Environment, based in Grand Prairie. Servant is also co-chair of a national federal/provincial working group on pesticide education, training and certification.
Voluntary training and certificate-granting courses are available to any interested producers, however. But, mandatory training and certification is required for all custom applicators and pesticide vendors in all provinces.
On the mandatory farmer-training front, Ontario has processed more than 27,000 producers through its Ontario Pesticides Education Program since it was introduced in the early 90s.
And although there is no blanket mandatory program in B.C., for decades producers have been required to complete training and receive certification to use most agricultural pesticides. Separate requirements of agencies, including the B.C. Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection (WLAP) and the Worker's Compensation Board, make it necessary for most producers to take training before they can either buy or apply a wide range of pesticides.
Ontario's mandatory program
Ontario launched its pesticide safety training course in 1988 and made it mandatory in 1991, says Susan Kelner, University of Guelph, Ridgetown College. The college delivers the Ontario Pesticides Education Program on behalf of the provincial government.
Both individual farmers as well as custom pesticide applicators in Ontario are required to complete the one-day course and be certified before they can purchase or apply pesticides. The course issues a wallet-sized certificate that must be presented to retailers when buying pesticides. Farmers must renew their certification every five years.
"This program was initiated by various grower associations in the late 80s," says Kelner. "The growers urged government to make it mandatory."
Ontario has divided all crop protection products into six schedules or groups. Certification is required for pesticides that fall into Schedules 1, 2 and 5. These products are considered to be more toxic, are residual in the soil, or are considered persistent in the environment. Products such as Dicamba, Pursuit and Sencor as well as Apron Max Seed Treatment are among those on Schedules 1, 2 and 5.
Glyphosate, for example, is a Schedule 3 product and certification is not required if that is the only product being applied.
The $85 Ontario course provides a binder of reference material. Key points covered include understanding product labels, pesticide resistance and environmental issues, safe handling of products and disposal of containers.
More than 27,000 Ontario producers have completed the course since its inception. An estimated 6,000 farmers are expected to participate in 400 courses being offered across the province in 2005.
B.C.'s two-pronged approach
While there isn't a mandatory farmer pesticide training program in B.C., products labeled as restricted, or described as moderately toxic or very toxic do require that applicators be certified.
The B.C. Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection (WALP) require anyone buying or applying restricted products be certified. Under separate regulations, the Workers Compensation Board (WCB) requires anyone applying pesticides that are moderately toxic or very toxic must have an applicator certificate issued by WALP.
The range of agricultural products requiring some type of certification include several insecticides, fumigants, rodenticides, fungicides and a few herbicides such as Buctril M, Thumper, and Hoe-Grass II.
"Between the two agencies, most growers and farmers in the province need certification," says Madeline Waring, with the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries crop protection program.
The Ministry has developed a Web site at www.agf.gov.bc.ca/pesticides/ which explains requirements for pesticide applicator certification. Various colleges, farm safety associations and private contractors offer the core certification training available as either a three-day classroom training session or as a home study program.
British Columbia. Information on B.C.'s pesticide applicator certificate program can be found on the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Web site at www.agf.gov.bc.ca/pesticides/ . Most farmers/ranchers will need an "agricultural general" certificate. This certificate is for managing pests associated with production of field, orchard, nursery, and greenhouse crops, livestock, poultry, forest seedling nurseries and seed cone orchards.
Growers can also learn more by contacting The Farm and Ranch Safety and Health Association (FARSHA) who along with several community colleges and private contractors delivers pesticide training courses. Contact FARSHA at 1-877-533-1789, or visit the Web site at www.farsha.bc.ca, or email email@example.com.
Alberta. Two agricultural colleges share the responsibility of delivering Alberta's Pesticide Applicator Training courses.
Lakeland College in Vermillion delivers the mandatory certificate course for custom or commercial applicators at costs of $255 for the course and $100 for the exam. It is offered in a home study format that includes an estimated 60 to 80 hours of home study. The applicant can write the exam at the college or any of five proctor sites across the province.
For more information on the course, visit the college Web site at: http://www.lakelandc.ab.ca/continuinged/environ/default.htm or call Lakeland College at 1-866-853-8646 or 780-853-8646.
Olds College in Olds offers the voluntary Farmer Pesticide Applicators course, also in a homestudy format. For more information, contact the college's Open Learning Services office at 1-800-661-6537 or contact program co-ordinator Mary Jane Van Soest by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST) offers the mandatory Pesticide Training Course for custom or commercial applicators and/or retailers of pesticide products in both classroom and homestudy formats.
Courses range from a major (general) licence to special licence categories. Course costs range from $165 for the homestudy format to $300 for classroom instruction.
For more information on the courses, visit the college Web site at: www.siast.sk.ca/virtualcampus/educationtraining/agriculture/pesticidetraining.htm Phone: 1-866-goSIAST (467-4278) or email program co-ordinator David Warnock at email@example.com.
Manitoba. Assiniboine Community College offers a homestudy print or on-line Pesticide Applicator Training course for ground and aerial custom and commercial pesticide applicators. A classroom format can also be arranged. Course cost is $280.
The college also offers a voluntary grower certificate course for producers, which is a condensed version of the commercial certificate program. Supported by a federal farm safety program, the grower course costs $35.
For more information on the course, visit the college Web site at: http://public.assiniboine.net, or contact co-ordinator Terry Waddell at (204) 725-8700 ext. 7116 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
National objective. At the national level, the Working Group on Pesticide Education Training, created through the federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), is working to update uniform standards for both custom and private pesticide applicators across the country, says Servant.
While she says there is no movement to make certification mandatory for all pesticide users, it is important that standards created in 1995 be made current to reflect new products, research and new technology.
"As a national group, we are updating the standards of pesticide application, which can then be used by provincial regulators as the foundation for training and certification programs in their respective provinces," says Servant.
The committee has updated the core standards for pesticide application, but is in the process of reviewing the specific modules that pertain to specific areas of pesticide application, such as aerial application, agriculture, forestry, aquatic, greenhouse, industrial vegetation control and landscape application.
For more information on existing and updated standards and other committee activities, visit the PMRA Web site at: www.pmra-arla.gc.ca/english/fpt/petcwg-e.html.