Michigan pesticide applicators receive temporary emergency license extension

Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-52, released April 17, 2020, grants certain pesticide applicators a temporary extension of their expired applicator’s certificate during the current declared states of emergency and disaster.

Pesticide applicators in Michigan are required to be licensed to apply restricted use pesticides (RUPs) on their own properties or commercially on others’ property. Licenses are categorized as either private applicators, for those growing agricultural products on their owned or rented land, or commercial applicators, for those applying pesticides for hire. These licenses are issued by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and are valid for a period of three years. Applicators can renew their license either by attending continuing education events and earning a prescribed number of recertification credits, or by retesting every three years.

During the recent declared state of emergency (Executive Order 2020-4) and subsequent declared state of disaster (Executive Order 2020-33) issued by Governor Whitmer, all pesticide applicator testing is currently cancelled during the COVID-19, the infectious disease caused by novel coronavirus, pandemic. Those needing to renew their license by retesting in a classroom-style setting or online have been unable to do so since the beginning of the declared state of emergency. Private applicators have been given the temporary option of testing “via an oral fact-finding interview administered by an authorized representative of the department [MDARD]”. However, this option was not extended to commercial applicators. The Michigan State University Extension field crops team has produced an online recording of training materials to assist those taking the Core pesticide exam.

On April 17, 2020, Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-52, which allows for the temporary extension of all three-year certificates for commercial and private applicators and registered applicators that were set to expire Dec. 31, 2019. Effective immediately, these certificates will be deemed unexpired “until 60 days after the end of the declared states of emergency and disaster.” Certified and private applicators with temporarily extended certificates should obtain a copy of Executive Order 2020-52 and be able to present it, along with their driver’s license and expired certification card, upon request.

This executive order does not apply to certificates that expired prior to Dec. 31, 2019, nor does it apply to those seeking certification for the first time. Those with certifications that are being temporarily extended will need to retest within the 60 days following the termination of the state of emergency under Executive Order 2020-33. MDARD plans to significantly increase exam capacity during the 60 days and Metro Institute, the company designated by MDARD to administer computer-based testing, will resume testing where possible.

The Michigan Constitution of 1963 vests the executive power of the state in the Governor. That power can be exercised formally by executive order. Executive orders may establish an advisory body, commission, or task force, proclaim or end an emergency, or reduce expenditures authorized by appropriations. Once signed by the Governor, executive orders are filed with the Secretary of State, where the orders are sealed and retained by the Office of the Great Seal.

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