2017 marks over 30 years of pesticide safety education for Ontario vendors and growers. In the mid 1980’s, representatives from what is now known as CropLife Canada requested a course for Ontario’s pesticide vendors and the current Farm and Food Care Ontario promoted a similar course for growers.
The Ontario Pesticide Education Program now provides courses for both. To protect human and environmental health through certification and training, thousands of vendors and tens of thousands of growers have been trained in pesticide safety.
The education program continues to be supported by the agricultural industry and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. Dozens of ag retailers host the courses at their locations across the province. Also sponsoring the program are OMAFRA and companies including Adama, BASF, Bayer, Cargill, Dow AgroSciences, Dupont, Engage Agro, Growmark, N.M. Bartlett, Monsanto, Syngenta, Univar and Valent. However, most of the program costs are covered by the fees paid by course participants.
Evaluations show that the courses bring value to Ontario’s vendors and growers. On a scale of poor-ok-good, over 80% of growers selected good for the course content. Comments include: “A well taught and explained course that was easily understood. I learned a lot today and feel equipped to practice what I learned in my farming operation.”
Not only is the content, which includes product information, health and environmental risk management, pesticide application and pesticide safety practices ranked high, but over 90 % of participants gave top marks to the instructors. The instructors, many of whom are farmers themselves, “provided excellent feedback and practical advice on each of the topics covered”.
Grower and vendor pesticide safety courses continue to be offered in-class and on-line.