Pesticide Refresher for all Growers

More great info provided by Vermont Vegetable and Berry Growers Association.  This is an excerpt from the VT Vegetable and Berry News.  Join the association to receive the complete monthly newsletter and to join their incredibly informative listserve.

By Annie Macmillan,Vermont Agency of Agriculture

The Worker Protection Standard (WPS), a Federal regulation that has been in effect since 1995, applies to all commercial growers that use any pesticides–organic or conventional–in the production of agricultural plants on farms, nurseries, and greenhouses.

Commercial farms may only use agriculturally-labeled pesticides. Homeowner products (garden labeled) may not be used in a commercial operation. You will know that a product is labeled for agricultural use because it will include WPS information under the AGRICULTURAL USE REQUIREMENTS statement in the Directions for Use section of the pesticide label. Furthermore, it is illegal to use any pesticide product that has not been registered by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. Please visit or call Annie Macmillan at 802-828-3479 to verify whether a product has been registered.
Organic growers note: even if organic pesticides are approved by OMRI or VOF, they cannot be used on commercial organic farms with employees unless the label includes the Agricultural Use Requirement.

All employees on commercial farms must be trained to understand the WPS. There are two types of employees with regard to WPS on a farm: Handlers and Workers. Handlers are the people that prepare and/or apply agricultural pesticides, organic or otherwise. Handling tasks include mixing, loading, transferring, or applying pesticides; handling opened containers of pesticides; and cleaning, handling, repairing mixing, loading, or application equipment that may contain pesticide residue. Handlers must complete a training approved by the VT Agency of Agriculture after which they receive a Handler Card that is good for five years.

Workers are those given any type of compensation for harvesting, weeding, watering, etc. related to the production of agricultural plants. Workers need to be trained prior to entering a field that has been treated with any pesticide within the past 30 days. A Handler may train Workers employed on the same farm, or a farmer with a Pesticide Applicator Certificate may train their own Workers.

If you are the owner of a farm, and you or members of your family do all the work there, you are a “WPS employer.” That means you must comply with some of the requirements of WPS, such as following pesticide label instructions about restricted entry intervals (REI) and personal protective equipment (PPE), and all other specific requirements listed on the label. However, in this case you are exempt from other WPS requirements such as posting pesticide application information at a central location, giving pesticide safety training to workers, providing decontamination supplies, posting emergency assistance information, and specific care and use of personal protective equipment. Despite this exemption, it is still a good idea to do most of these things.

Agency of Agriculture inspectors will be visiting organic fruit, vegetable, greenhouse and nursery operations routinely during the growing season to make sure that those applying pesticides are in compliance with the WPS. The Agency will also conduct Handler training as part of our 2010 Summer Workshop Series with Anne Macmillan and area field agents of the Agency of Agriculture. Please keep a look out for this workshop that will help you be in compliance when the State visits your farm this season.  Group trainings for farmers can also be arranged by request. Please contact Annie Macmillan at 828-3479, or

Excerpt from Vermont Vegetable and Berry News – April 20, 2010
Compiled by Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Extension
(802) 257-7967 ext.13,


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