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Missouri Department Of Agriculture Looks To Update Pesticide Training

The Missouri Department of Agriculture wants to make pesticide application training easier and in-house.
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The Missouri Department of Agriculture wants to make pesticide application training easier and in-house.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture is updating the way it teaches farmers to safely use pesticides, with the goals of making it easier for them and keeping the process under state control.

Such training usually happens through in-person classes that include watching videos so old they are on VHS tapes.

The coronavirus pandemic shut down most of the in-person pesticide training classes, and it also exacerbated how outdated the training materials were.

State Agriculture Director Chris Chinn said her department is working on new materials that can be accessed online and will also be in compliance with new U.S. EPA rules.

“We’re really excited about that opportunity, and it will be a priority for us moving forward because if we don’t get the job done in Missouri, the EPA is going to come do it for us, and none of us want to see that happen,” Chinn said in a recent virtual meeting with the Missouri Farm Bureau.

The U.S. EPA expanded the requirements for safety training, increasing the core competencies from five to 13. The federal agency will take over the responsibility for any state that isn’t in compliance.

In Missouri, that means a new program designed by the agriculture department, as well as the Legislature codifying those new rules.

Chinn said the new training program will also be easier for farmers.

“That means delivering them in an online format so that people can do this training whenever it’s convenient for them,” Chinn said. “You don’t have to take a day away from your farm and go sit in a classroom. This is a training you can do in the evening or on the weekend.”

The Illinois Department of Agriculture started online pesticide training in December and has already had more than 1,000 farmers complete the courses virtually.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @JonathanAhl

Jonathan Ahl is the Newscast Editor and Rolla correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.