Opinion by Keith KennedyWritten by Keith Kennedy
Keith Kennedy, Executive Director, Wyoming Ag Business Association
At the recent meeting of the Wyoming Legislature’s Interim Joint Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Committee, one topic of discussion was a proposal to update several aspects of Wyoming’s pesticide law. In order for producers and applicators to provide input on the proposed changes, the key suggested changes are detailed below. These changes are primarily to licensure of commercial applicators, as opposed to farmers and ranchers, who usually hold a private pesticide license.
First, a category has been added – that of government applicator. Currently, employees of government agencies hold commercial licenses, but the fee for the license is not collected from government employees. As proposed, one holding a government license would not be charged, but would be prohibited from performing commercial work for anyone aside from their government employer. In addition, all commercial license holders would be required to notify the Department of Agriculture of any change in personal address or employment within thirty days of such change.
A second area with major changes is reciprocal licensing, where applicators from other states apply for a Wyoming license based on their existing license. As proposed, these individuals would now be required to take an exam on Wyoming pesticide law and pass the exam with a score of 70 percent. The Department of Agriculture could deny a reciprocal license based on violation(s) in other states. Those requesting reciprocity would be required to present their license from their state of residency. Individuals holding Wyoming reciprocal licenses would be required to be physically present in Wyoming to directly supervise employees.
Currently, there is no requirement that commercial license holders have insurance; one suggestion is that licensees or their employers would be required to hold $50,000 of single occurrence liability insurance, with $100,000 aggregate coverage at the time of licensure and renewal, evidenced by a certificate of insurance or a notarized affidavit (similar to vehicle registration).
Clarifications of the requirements for “direct supervision” are also in the proposed legislation. As proposed, direct supervision always requires the supervisor to be within one hour of travel, or 50 miles of the site of application. The supervisor would need to be on-site or within immediate radio or phone contact if the application is hazardous, and of course, a given label may require more stringent direct supervision.
Finally, if a violation of Wyoming pesticide law results in damage that requires remediation by the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, the department may require restitution through a court proceeding.
The Joint Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Committee of the legislature will consider a draft bill during their meetings in Hulett on September 24-25. If you have questions or concerns regarding this proposed legislation please feel free to contact me.