The EPA is in the process of drafting changes to their Certification of Pesticide Applicator Rules. They have proposed significant changes to the rules impacting the current requirements for obtaining a private and/or commercial applicator license in the state of Montana. The Montana Department of Agriculture (DOA) recently held two stakeholder meetings to discuss the proposed rule changes and how their passage and implementation will affect Montanans.

What’s the Big Deal about Pesticide Applicators Certification changes?
Most private applicators are farmers and ranchers trying to control weeds on their range and crop land; however, you aren’t required to obtain a private applicator license unless you are using Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs.) Many obtain their private applicator license as a means of staying current and educated on the newest technologies.

By making the private application process similar to the commercial applicator process, the EPA is forcing farmers and ranchers to spend more time and money to get a certification they’ve likely had for years.

The concern is that, rather than meet the new standards, people may stop attending the training certifications altogether. While you must be certified to use RUPs, there are plenty of other available pesticides on the market that don’t require any training or certification to use. By drastically increasing training requirements, we run the risk of having the same amount of pesticide being applied with fewer properly educated people applying it.

Changes to Private Applicator Licensing Requirements:

  • The most obvious challenge under the proposed rules is that our state private applicator and training certification program will be doing more with less funding.

  • The new rules will require the private applicator to be competent in all 9 of the general core competency standards: (currently only required to have 5 core competencies)

  • Label and labeling comprehension, safety, environment, pests, pesticides, equipment, application techniques, laws and regulations, responsibilities for supervisors of noncertified applicators, and general knowledge of agricultural pest control.

  • Private applicators will also have to seek an additional certification if performing aerial application, soil fumigation and non-soil fumigation.

  • Minimum age is 18. Under current rule its 16. (There is an age exemption for family members working on family property)

  • Required to renew certification every 3 years rather than the existing 5 years.

  • Must earn 6 CEUs (continuing education unit; 1 CEU=50 min. of active training time) covering the general private applicator certification requirements and 3 CEUs per category of certification.

Comment Period Closes December 23

EPA’s comment period on the proposed rules closes December 23. If these rules are passed, implementation may take up to two years. There’s potential for it to take longer if more comments and concerns are raised.

This is by no means a comprehensive overview of all the proposed changes. To see a side-by-side comparison of proposed changes vs. the current rule go to our website:

If you’d like to comment and get more information about the rule visit:

- Chelcie Cargill, Director of State Affairs