EPA Releases Temporary Guidance Regarding Certification of Pesticide Applicators During COVID-19

John Deere Sprayer in a field

EPA Releases Temporary Guidance Regarding Certification of Pesticide Applicators During COVID-19

EPA has released a temporary guidance regarding the certification of pesticide applicators of restricted use pesticides that offers flexibility during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The Agency is aware that state, tribal and federal certifying authorities may need to make temporary changes to their existing pesticide applicator certification programs during this time. Given the evolving circumstances and the urgency involved, EPA has determined that certain temporary changes to their programs should be preapproved and may be implemented provided that they are not likely to significantly diminish applicator competence or undermine future certification activities and all conditions are met.
Currently, certifying authorities can make non-substantial changes to their certification plans without prior EPA approval, but need to notify EPA within 90 days or with the required annual report, whichever occurs first.
So long as such temporary changes are reported to EPA as outlined in the guidance, EPA does not intend to impose sanctions on certification programs that miss reporting deadlines specified in the CPA rule. EPA will instead accept notifications included in the annual reporting, which are due December 31, 2020.
EPA is temporarily pre-approving substantial modifications if the modifications meet all the following conditions:
  • Time-limited to no later than Dec. 31, 2021, and revocable within 90 days or less by the certifying authority if EPA determines that the modification is no longer appropriate;
  • Consistent with pesticide labeling;
  • Consistent with EPA’s Certification of Pesticide Applicators regulation;
  • Will not significantly diminish applicator competency; and,
  • Will not undermine future certification activities.
To read the temporary guidance in full, visit our webpage.
Additional Information
Certifying authorities must still obtain EPA’s advance approval of substantial modifications of their certification plans that do not meet all the above conditions. State and tribal certifying authorities should contact their EPA regional office for more information or to request approvals for substantial modifications to be made in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
This temporary guidance also includes a modification to the recertification period for certificates issued to certified applicators that apply restricted use pesticides in Indian country under EPA’s Plan for the Federal Certification of Applicators of Restricted Use Pesticides within Indian country. Certified applicators holding an EPA-issued certificate based on a currently valid underlying certificate from another jurisdiction (e.g., state-issued) are granted an extension that aligns with the expiration date of the underlying certificate.
This guidance is temporary, and EPA will assess the continued need and scope of this temporary guidance on an ongoing basis. EPA will provide notice here under “Certifying Pesticide Applicators” at least seven days prior to terminating this guidance.


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