Crop and Pest Management Guidelines

A Cornell Cooperative Extension Publication

1.1 Pesticide Classification and Certification

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) created two classifications of pesticides - general-use and restricted-use. General-use pesticides may be purchased and used by anyone. Restricted-use pesticides can only be purchased by a certified applicator. Restricted-use pesticides must also be used by a certified applicator or someone under their supervision.

The same federal law that classifies pesticides divided applicators into two groups: private and commercial. Private applicators use or supervise the use of pesticides to produce agricultural commodities or forest crops on land owned or rented by the private applicator or their employer. A farmer must be certified as a private applicator in order to purchase and use restricted-use pesticides on agricultural commodities. (No certification is needed if a farmer does not use restricted-use pesticides.)

A commercial applicator uses or supervises the use of pesticides for any purpose or on any property not covered by the private applicator classification. In New York, a commercial applicator must be certified to purchase or use any pesticide whether it is general- or restricted-use.

Information about pesticide certification and classification is available from your Cornell Cooperative Extension office (, regional NYSDEC pesticide specialist (, the Pesticide Applicator Training Manuals (https://www.cornellstore. com/books/cornell-cooperative-ext-pmep-manuals), or the Pesticide Management Education Program (PMEP) at Cornell University (

"Need Certification Credits? Get them at the PMEP Distance learning Center".

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