Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association
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Common Questions about General Standards & Field Crops Exams & Licensing

As ag retailers are working hard to get their spray operators upgraded to certified applicators by attending the field crop training and taking the test, and some questions have come up with regard to this process.  We have worked with IDA to provide guidance on the commonly asked questions below. 
Bear in mind that you must have a current general standards (GS) certification in order to achieve the status of commercial applicator, which passage of the field crop (FC) exam will provide.  But there are some nuances to this process that we will try to address below.  
1.  If I am not due to take my GS this year, how does that affect my certification if I pass the FC exam this year?  If you pass field crops, then your certification as a commercial certified applicator will expire when your GS expires.  Therefore, we recommend that you take GS again this year, along with the FC exam, to "sync" your exams and get on the 3 year cycle for both GS and FC in order to get the full 3 years benefit of the certification you've earned.    
2.  If my GS expires this year but I want to see first if I can pass the FC exam, can I take the FC exam first?  Yes, you can.  But the IDA will not issue you an application for a certified applicator license UNTIL they have proof that you also took and passed the GS exam.  You can take the GS exam at many clinics where the GS training and testing is offered, even if it is at a different clinic than where you plan to take the FC exam.  Or, you can make an appointment at the IL Dept of Ag to take the GS exam (or any category exam) at the IDA office in Springfield.  Just call IDA at 217.785.2427 to schedule an appointment to take the exam(s).

3.  How does the licensing process work?  First of all we HIGHLY RECOMMEND that if you pass the FC exam, you upgrade to the commercial applicator license.  That's because if you pass FC and you do not upgrade your license, the FC exam expires in one year from the date in which you passed the exam, and you will have to take it again next year.  Who wants to take this test every year?  Upgrading from the operator license to the applicator license is a nominal fee when compared to the hassle of having to test in FC every year.  You will get a full 3 years on your FC exam if you upgrade to the commercial applicator license.  Once IDA has proof in their records that you have passed FC and that your GS is also current, they will mail you a license application.  If you take FC first and GS at a later time this winter, you may need to contact IDA if more than a month goes by and you don't have your license application.  IDA will do their best to keep this all coordinated on their end, but don't hesitate to call them at 217.784.2427 to check on your status if your application doesn't come in the mail in a fairly timely manner. 

4.  Do I need to provide proof of insurance when I submit the application for a commercial certified applicator license?  If your company is already on record with IDA as having the required insurance to commercially apply pesticides, you do not have to provide this information to IDA.  If the certified applicator who was always on record at the facility is still there, the insurance information for the company is tied to their license and IDA will verify that when they process additional licenses for people becoming additional certified applicators at ag retail facilities.  You also no longer need to list the name of the commercial applicator that you used to report to when you were an operator--list only your name as the applicator on the license application.  

5.  Do I have to get my field crop certification before I can take dicamba training?  No, the dicamba training can be taken at any time, by anyone.  Recently, we added many more classroom events to the IFCA's Illinois Dicamba Training website so please check it out for yourself and help spread the word to your farmer customers.  If any of them will be applying dicamba as a private certified applicator, they also need to attend annual dicamba training.  The important thing to remember is that proof of dicamba training is required as part of the record of any dicamba application made to soybean; your applicator certification # is NOT required to attend dicamba training and receive a training certificate.  There is no cost to attend dicamba training and there is no test.  At some point, the registrants plan to also offer an on-line dicamba training option, but we don't know when.  IFCA recommends you attend a classroom training event because there are so many important label changes to understand.   

There are still openings to take FC training and testing in all categories:  January 18 at Utica, January 25 at Carterville, January 29 at the IFCA Convention in Peoria and February 11 in Champaign.  Call IFCA to register for the training at Convention or click here to register on the UI website for the other classes.   There will be no general standards training at any of these events, only field crop training.  But you can still find lots of other opportunities for GS training at the UI website.  If you have questions please call IFCA.