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The pesticide applicator certification regulations the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working on for well over a year, are now final and have been published in the Federal Register.

These regulations are the last of several regulatory packages affecting landscape professionals pushed through the regulatory process in the last two years of the Obama Administration.

Although the regulations will soon be final and official, it could up to be five years before landscape contractors will see the impact of the rules. State governments administer the pesticide certification programs on behalf of EPA under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

States have up to three years to develop a plan to implement the new rules and submit the plan to EPA for approval. EPA has up to two years to review and approve the plan. After EPA approval, there will be some time allowed for the plan to be implemented and for the industry to come into compliance.

What will Trump do?

The question on everyone’s mind is what will President-elect Trump do? Trump has vowed to roll back many federal regulations, citing EPA as a prime example of regulatory overreach. But it will take more than a presidential signature to roll back regulations like this and others.

Once a regulation is made final and is published in the Federal Register, that regulation has the force and effect of law. Unlike executive orders issued by presidential signature, undoing or changing a federal regulation requires the same process of public review and comment as enacting a regulation in the first place.

Focus moves to the states

One track the Trump Administration may take is to simply let the new pesticide regulations, now enacted, play out through the states. States administer the pesticide regulations under delegation agreements with EPA. And while states can be no less stringent than the federal rules, states will have some latitude in how they interpret and implement the new regulations.

In addition, some states have already implemented on their own many of the provisions in the new rules. For example, officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, which administers the program in Pennsylvania, have said the new rules will have only a minor impact on their program.

If you are a landscape professional concerned about how the new regulations will affect your business, your most effective course may be to get in touch with the agency in your state that’s responsible for pesticide applicator certification to make your concerns known. State agencies will undoubtedly be receiving guidance from EPA as the new administration begins to assert its influence over how new regulations will be implemented.

If you’re uncertain about what agency administers the pesticide certification program in your state, this website will help you locate contacts for your state agency.

What will the new pesticide rules do?

According to EPA, the new regulations will:

  • Enhance applicator competency standards to ensure that restricted use pesticides (RUPs) are used safely.
  • Establish a nationwide minimum age (18) for certified applicators and persons working under their direct supervision.
  • Establish a maximum recertification interval of five years for commercial and private applicators.
  • Require specialized certifications for people using specific application methods (fumigation and aerial).
  • Establish protection for noncertified applicators by requiring training before they can use RUPs (under the direct supervision of a certified applicator). Noncertified applicators have to complete the training outlined in the rule, complete Worker Protection Standard handler training, or complete a program approved by the state.
  • Clarify and streamline requirements for states, tribes, and federal agencies to administer their own certification programs, while granting flexibility to tailor programs to the needs of each state, tribe or federal agency.

A very helpful comparison of the current rules and the new rules can be downloaded from EPA by clicking here.

Correction (1/5): A previous version of this post incorrectly referred to RUP pesticides as “registered use pesticides.” The acronym RUP stands for “restricted use pesticide,” which references the EPA’s list of pesticides that are not available to the general public in the U.S. The mistake has been corrected.

Photo: /Kevin Burkett


About the Author:

Gregg Robertson, Landscape Management's government relations blogger, is a government relations consultant for the Pennsylvania Landscape & Nursery Association (PLNA) and president of Conewago Ventures. From 2002 until May 2013 he served as president of PLNA. Reach him at

4 Comments on "Government Affairs: New federal pesticide certification rules are final"

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  1. Bob Dale says:

    I’m wondering if the article in LM is correct in its use of the verbiage “registered use” versus ‘restricted use’ with regard to pesticide training?

    • Dillon Stewart says:

      Bob, it should be restricted use, not registered use. We’ve updated the article. Thanks for pointing this out.

  2. Harold Enger says:

    I always thought that the acronym RUP stood for Restricted Use Pesticide not Registered Use Pesticide. All labelled pesticides are registered.

    • Dillon Stewart says:

      Harold, the acronym “RUP” does stand for “restricted use pesticide.” The article has been corrected. Thanks for pointing this out.