MASSACHUSETTS | Pesticide Advisory Council meets, MDAR updates in response to COVID-19
The Massachusetts Pesticide Advisory Council met last Friday with the staff of the Department of Agricultural Resources to discuss policy issues. Director of Crop & Pest Services Taryn LaScola-Miner had some interesting developments to pass along including a deadline extension for the auditing of recertification credits until September 30, 2020. The certification and training portion of the state regulations is under review and a first draft is expected to be circulated in the coming weeks. Highlights of changes being proposed include requiring professional applicators who use EPA 25(b) products to obtain a state pesticide license, the combination of the shade trees & ornamentals and turfgrass categories into a single category, and updates to the insurance coverage required by pesticide applicators.
Massachusetts has canceled all pesticide license examinations through the month of May, leaving over 450 people who had applied prior to the onset of the pandemic without an opportunity to become licensed. Due to the logistics of how MDAR holds its exams, it will be difficult to resume until almost all of state restrictions have been lifted. MDAR has been looking into alternative methods for holding the exams, including having pest control companies host exams in company conference rooms. Late this week we learned from MDAR that they were adopting the concept of holding exams in parking lots with applicants remaining in their vehicles to achieve social distancing.
With the onset of the pandemic making it plain that the method of holding exams was obsolete, MDAR announced that they had issued a request for proposals to establish an on-line proctored exam system to replace the OMR bubble sheet system that has been in use for decades. The new system will be very similar to those adopted in many other states that allow applicants to access examinations on demand and significantly reduce the amount of time necessary to complete the license process.