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Ohio man is convicted of spraying pesticides without a valid license
Ohio Correspondent

GREENVILLE, Ohio — Spraying pesticides without a license can be costly in Ohio.

Just ask Paul Lee Fellers, a Darke County lawn maintenance and landscaping man, who applied pesticides for hire during a three-year period without having a Pesticide Application Business License or a Commercial Applicators License. This violation of Ohio’s pesticide law resulted in a hefty fine, a 10-day jail sentence and court costs.

Ohio law requires the license of business and commercial pesticide applicators to help assure public and environmental safety. Professional applicators know these rules and regulations. Most farmers know the rules and regulations, too.

“We currently have 541 licensed private applicators in Darke County,” said Darke County Extension Specialist Stephen Foster. “Each of these applicators are required to attend a minimum of three hours of recertification training every three years. This training includes any new updates in chemical and pesticide laws. Farmers know that they need a license to purchase and use restricted chemicals.”

But in Fellers’ case of pesticide misuse, a private applicator purchased chemicals and custom applied them without the proper commercial applicators license.

“Where we see abuses of this system is when someone has another farmer purchase chemicals and then custom apply them,” Foster said.

Farmers in Ohio are required to be recertified on chemical and pesticide use every three years. The recertification cost is $45.

“I would say all farmers, at least farmers who make the majority of their income from the farm, know they need to be certified to apply a restricted use pesticide,” said Butler County Extension Specialist Steve Bartels.

“They need to show their cards or have their certification number on file with their retailer before they can purchase a restricted use pesticide. This has been the law since about 1975 in Ohio. We have 177 private pesticide applicators in our county alone. “I don’t believe farmers are concerned about the time and cost involved. Once they pass their test, they only need a minimum of three hours of updated training every three years, more if they have more than four categories on their cards. When they spend $250,000 on a combine $45 every three years is not worth talking about.”

The Ohio Division of Natural Resources (ODNR) is the state’s legally designated agency responsible for the protection of the state’s plant, wild animal and soil and water resources.

When properly applied, they are an effective tool of the resource manager. However, improper use can adversely affect natural resource values and result in heavy fines and court costs, as was the case with Fellers, who made numerous pesticide applications in the Greenville area.

Fellers has never had a pesticide application license.

Fellers was also found guilty for failing to employ at least one commercial applicator for each pesticide business location (a second degree misdemeanor).

He was fined $200 for each charge, with $150 suspended on each count. He was also given a 10-day jail sentence on each count. The jail sentence was suspended provided that there are no additional violations for one year. In total, Fellers total fine was $150 and $76.60 in court costs.

Published in the October 26, 2005 issue of Farm World.