Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association
Supply · Service · Stewardship

Custom Farming Raises Licensing Questions

Farms are getting larger and financial institutions are becoming more involved in the input decision making process.  This has resulted in an interesting new development that IFCA members should be aware of.  Recently, some farm management groups have hired private applicators (farmers) to apply herbicides and insecticides to farmground in which the private applicator has no interest in the crop.  Most likely, these farmers are neighbors to the land being farmed or are involved themselves with the farm management group.  However, a private applicator cannot take monetary payment to apply pesticides.  To do so, you must be licensed as a commercial applicator and carry insurance.  The IL Dept of Ag has investigated several incidents where private applicators have purchased restricted use pesticides from an ag retailer, but applied the product in a for-hire situation, with the product being billed to the farm management company.  The IL Pesticide Act requires that you keep records of sales of restricted use pesticides and must ensure that the purchaser is licensed by IDA.  If you have reason to believe a farmer may be purchasing product for application on cropland in which they have no interest in the crop, and will be paid for it, you should make them aware that this act requires a commercial applicator license.  IDA has been conducting record checks at ag retailers and uncovered this situation, and has also met with several private applicators to inform them of the difference between "commercial" and "private."   While ag retailers are not the official "gatekeepers" to police what private applicators do with product after they legally purchase it, IDA needs your help to ensure compliance with the IL Pesticide Act for everyone involved.  We recommend that you ask the right questions if you are unsure of how the product might be used, especially if a management group is paying for the product.  If you have questions please contact IFCA or the Illinois Dept of Ag at 217.785.2427.  IFCA will be reaching out to farm management groups and farm organizations to ensure that everyone understands the difference between "private" and "commercial" application.