2012 Bureau of Agrichemical Management Annual Report

2012 Pesticide Use

Wisconsin law requires strict compliance with directions on labeling associated with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered pesticide products including storage, handling, and use. The pesticide program reviews all pesticide use inspections for trends and needed follow-up with industry or the public. Many of the Investigation and Compliance Section’s activities are inspections of these practices and their associated records, as well as investigations of potential violations of the general label provisions or specific prohibitions contained in ch. ATCP 29, Wis. Adm. Code​

ATCP 29 Pesticide Use and Control Rule Revision

The revisions to ch. ATCP 29, Wis. Adm. Code, will take effect on June 1, 2013. In 2008, the Department of Agricultural Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Board approved a scope statement to open ch. ATCP 29 for revision.  In February 2012, the department held two public hearings to receive public comment on the proposed changes. Major issues considered during the ATCP 29 rule revision process include: pesticide application to natural areas and the appropriate applicator certification category, use of electronic notification for customers, updating ATCP 29 to be consistent with fertilizer and pesticide storage rules and updating ATCP 29 related to structural applications and residential chemigation systems. Thirty people attended the hearings and an additional 18 individuals submitted written comments. After staff made adjustments to the draft rule based on public input, the DATCP Board approved the final rule draft at their August 2012 meeting. The final rule package was submitted to the legislature in December 2012. The department will provide compliance assistance to help industry and the public understand and implement the new rule requirements.

Implementation of Soil Fumigant Label Requirements

The EPA is requiring extensive new safety measures for soil fumigants to increase protections for agricultural workers and those who live, work, or otherwise spend time near fields that are fumigated. The label changes affect soil fumigant pesticides that contain any of the following active ingredients: metam sodium, metam potassium, dazomet, chloropicrin, and methyl bromide. 

Phase 1 started in 2010 when some measures began appearing on product labels.  The remaining measures began appearing on product labels in December 2012 or phase 2. Phase 1 label changes included reclassifying products as restricted use (applicator certification required for purchase and use of the products), increasing safety measures for agricultural workers, and the development of a fumigant management plan.  Phase 2 label changes include buffer zone and related requirements.

In 2012, staff continued to work with pesticide applicators, crop growers, and others to address questions about the new requirements.  DATCP staff also gave presentations, developed and distributed outreach materials, conducted field use observations, and updated the department’s webpage to assist with the implementation of the Phase 2 label changes​. 

DATCP helped the University of Wisconsin Pesticide Applicator Training Program revise the soil fumigation pesticide applicator certification training manual to include the new EPA requirements and Wisconsin specific rules. The new certification exam was approved by EPA as meeting both the state certification criteria and the new label training requirement for applicators.  This is a major benefit for Wisconsin applicators as at the end of 2012 only two states met both the state and the federal requirements with one training program and exam.

Pesticide Use Observations

Department staff observed pesticide applications made by business and agricultural producers every year. DATCP staff conducted use observations covering a broad spectrum of application types to help ensure pesticide applicators comply with federal and state requirements for pesticide use. Through the use observations, DATCP staff validated the proper use of products and required protection of persons and the environment. The observations also provide an opportunity to identify any potential problems with the directions for use or with sales/distribution practices.  In 2012, DATCP also revised the inspection form used for these inspections to better address requirements and informational needs.  The new form will be used in 2013. 

Agricultural Use Observations

During 2012 the department made 37 agricultural use observations. The main focus was agricultural applications of products containing atrazine, soil fumigation products, forestry uses and aerial applications. There were four violations concerning negligent use, and use of a pesticide inconsistent with label directions. Four observations identified unlicensed individuals making pesticide applications. The majority of violations observed (15) were related to application record keeping and information exchange requirements.

Non-Agricultural Use Observations

Staff completed 41 non-agricultural use observations. These are pesticide applications made for reasons other than growing a crop, for example applications made to control vegetation in a highway right of way. The department primarily focused on applications made by lawn care businesses, structural pest control businesses and applications for controlling aquatic vegetation. There were 23 types of violations involving 45 individual counts. The most frequent violations involved record keeping and not providing precautionary language to the customer or resident. Eight violations for uncertified or unlicensed applicators were noted, as were seven negligent pesticide applications.

In 2012, the department also created several informational videos related to pesticides.  One of the videos attempts to reach homeowners and explain​ considerations for non-agricultural pesticide uses. 

Pesticide Special Registrations

A small number of pesticide products are authorized for special uses under sections 18 and 24(c)​ of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). These uses are otherwise not allowed by existing product registrations and labeling. Each year, staff perform use observations related to these special authorizations to help determine if the unique directions for use of each special authorization are being followed.  Numbers of observations and violations, and types of violations, are included in the summaries for Agricultural and Non-Agricultural Use Observations. No problems specific to special registrations (registration/labeling), as opposed to general pesticide use requirements, were identified in 2012.   

Private Applicator Records Inspection

Through 2011, DATCP had a grant with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to perform record inspections of private pesticide applicators.  In late 2011, USDA notified DATCP that it was cancelling the grant. Because our investigative staff have limited opportunities to meet directly with private applicators (farmers), staff and management decided to maintain this important connection and continue the program under our state authority to inspect application records granted under ch. ATCP 29, Wis. Adm. Code. Because the 2012 inspections were completed under state authority, the USDA inspection form was no longer valid; staff created and used a new form. The new state form will continue to be used for future private applicator record inspections.

In 2012, environmental enforcement staff completed 32 private applicator record inspections and found 31 total violations.  Staff also provided instructions on recordkeeping at 21 private applicator training sessions offered by the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension as well as other pesticide applicator training meetings. The training sessions reached 587 private applicators.

Pesticide Records Inspections

Department field investigators conduct routine inspections of pesticide users and investigate pesticide misuse complaints. Records inspections are made at businesses to determine if restricted use pesticides are only being sold to certified applicators. Staff evaluate the completeness of pesticide application records developed by individual commercial and private applicators, including required pre-application and posting requirements. Investigators observe pesticide application activities in a variety of agricultural and non-agricultural settings each year.

Number of inspections in 2012:

  • 29 restricted use pesticide dealer inspections
  • 52 commercial applicator records inspections
  • 53 private applicator records inspections/presentations  

The department documented a similar percentage of violations during 2012 as in previous year’s records inspections. Business and commercial applicators most commonly fail to record all the elements required by law. For example, failure to record the EPA registration number of the pesticide applied or not listing the name of the applicator. While reviewing application records, staff uncovered more than 45 violations related to information sharing with the customer. There were 20 violations for failure to provide pre-application information to landscape customers, and an additional 8 violations where a structural pest control business did not provide pre-application information to residents. The majority of remaining violations related to post-application information to customers lacking specific information; for example, precautions necessary to protect public health were not identified.  The department will be working with industry associations in 2013 to remind businesses and applicators of record keeping requirements. 

All pesticide complaints received by the department are evaluated. For some, the department initiates investigations on the circumstances that may ultimately lead to allegations of the improper use (misuse) of pesticides. Compliance activities resulting from 2012 pesticide use observations, records inspections and the 93 pesticide misuse investigations are discussed in the Compliance and Investigation section of this website.

Lawn and Landscape Supplemental EPA Grant

The department focused on certification and licensing compliance in the lawn care industry during 2012.  Over half of all licensed pesticide application businesses in Wisconsin work in this industry sector. There are also more certified applicators in the turf and landscape certification category than any of the other 19 certification categories. The sheer number of applicators and the frequently high employee turnover rate at lawn care businesses results in a high non-compliance rate for certification and licensing regulations.  To improve the compliance rate within this industry, an EPA grant was used to fund a limited term employee based in the Sturtevant office.

The department contacted 54 unlicensed/uncertified businesses.  Of those contacted, 22 obtained the required business license and/or had their applicators pass the pesticide applicator certification exam. Eighteen businesses said they either do not use pesticides or agreed not to use pesticides in the future. Enforcement investigations were initiated for eleven businesses that failed to come into compliance with the department’s regulations. The department will follow up with the remaining businesses in 2013.  Staff also updated outreach materials specific for the lawn care industry, including the Turf & Landscape How to Comply Manual​, provided additional certification testing opportunities in Sturtevant, and created a video for lawn care businesses​ that use pesticides.  Another video provides information that homeowners should consider when selecting a lawn care service provider.


The DriftWatch program was created by Purdue University to facilitate communication between specialty-crop growers and pesticide applicators. The goal is to raise awareness of specialty crops including bees, fruits and organic produce. Readily accessed information about sensitive crop locations could help applicators make informed decisions regarding pesticide use near sensitive crops.

In 2012, a grant was secured to hire a marketing specialist for promoting the program and increasing the number of registered participants. The position started in January of 2013.

The Agrichemical Management Bureau also produced two videos in 2012 to help educate the public about pesticide drift​ and the Driftwatch program​.

A major component of the DriftWatch coordinator’s job will be to meet face-to-face with producers in order to encourage them to register for the program. Additionally, the program coordinator will use email campaigns to a number of organizations and individuals including organic farmers, farmers market managers, specialty-crop trade publications and organic certification agencies. They will also reach out to pesticide applicators and encourage their participation in the program.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Integrated pest management (IPM) is an approach to pest control that relies on a combination of common sense practices for preventing and controlling pests and minimizing exposure to pesticides. For long-term pest control, it is essential to identify which pest is causing the problem and what caused the infestation to arise in the first place. Considerable effort is put toward preventing pest problems by controlling conditions that may attract and support pests (such as sources of food, water, and shelter). 

The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program historically focused on implementing IPM in schools and other structural settings. In recent years, the focus has broadened to include both non-agricultural and, in limited cases, certain agricultural settings (such as Christmas tree production).  In general, the program typically defers to the expertise of University of Wisconsin faculty and staff for implementation of IPM in agricultural settings.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs have in recent years been making a wide-spread resurgence in the United States, infesting homes, apartments, hotels, retail stores, dormitories, offices, and even libraries. The program continues to respond to inquiries regarding management of bed bugs, including pesticide-related questions.  See the program’s bed bug webpages for more information. 

Direction for the Coming Year

In addition to the routine pesticide recordkeeping and use observations the pesticide program will focus on the following activities:

Soil Fumigants

DATCP staff will continue to work with pesticide applicators, crop growers, and others on implementing the Phase 2 label requirements, including live use observations.

Use Observations

For 2013 the department will observe a broader range of agricultural and non-agricultural pesticide applications. Focus areas will cover pesticide use related to the following sites and uses: seed treatment, greenhouses, fumigants, small mammal control, bed bugs, aquatic weed control, schools, right-of-ways and more. 

Use Observations for Pesticide Special Registrations

DATCP staff will continue to conduct use observations related to pesticides authorized for special uses under sections 18 and 24(c) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).    

Outreach for revisions to ATCP 29

DATCP will assist industry stakeholders and the public in understanding how the new rule provisions impact them and to remind them of existing requirements with high levels of violations, such as recordkeeping.


The program will continue to address inquiries related to IPM, as needed. The primary goal is to update, reorganize, and develop new content for the program’s web pages related to IPM​.

​​For more information about any of the bureau programs you may email the department.

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