Illinois Promotes Certification Program for Manure Haulers
Randy Fonner, Extension Specialist, 217-333-2611, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Writer: Leanne Lucas; 217-244-9085;email@example.com
Few industries welcome government regulations, and the industry
of commercial manure application is no exception. Therefore, when
legislatures began regulating haulers in other states, the haulers
in Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan approached Extension specialists
to develop a voluntary training and certification program.
The result was "The Great Lakes For-Hire Commercial Manure
Applicator Voluntary Certification and Training Program."
In addition to receiving extensive training in manure application,
haulers who complete this program could be eligible for reductions
in liability insurance premiums.
Organizers of the multi-state program believe they will save
everyone money by sharing resources and avoiding duplication of
efforts, said Randy Fonner, University of Illinois Extension specialist.
Also, because haulers often work across state lines, organizers
hope to create a certification process that will be valid from
state to state.
The certification program is being developed in consultation
with applicators from all three pilot states, and includes three
levels of certification.
Level 1: This level will ensure that in-field employees have
a basic working knowledge of spill response, application techniques,
and their state-specific regulations. Applicators that complete
Level 1 training with all employees could receive a reduction
in general liability insurance premiums.
Level 2: This level is geared to crew supervisors and owners,
and ensures that they have a knowledge base necessary to apply
manure in an environmentally safe manner. It requires Level 1
certification and six hours of continuing education (classroom
and in-the-field) every two years, with a graded exam.
Level 3: This level is customized to the individual operation.
The operator works with an insurer to create a code of ethics
and implement an Emergency Management System, which provides attainable
and measurable standards for equipment maintenance, safety and
environmental training and record keeping. Applicators certified
at this level could be eligible for premium reductions on environmental
liability coverage as well as a general liability premium reduction.
Fonner and Ted Funk, a U of I agricultural engineer, are working
with Extension in Wisconsin and Michigan to develop the curriculum
for the pilot program. They are writing a learning module for
Level Two that focuses on calibration of equipment and record
keeping. Eventually, Extension specialists in all three pilot
states hope to create four to five different modules on related
The first learning module will be introduced at the Upper Midwest
Manure Handling Expo in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin on August 19
and 20. Organizers of the Expo expect to draw as many as 1,000
participants from all over the Midwest as well as Canada. Fonner
hopes to have a similar field day in Illinois in 2004, although
on a much smaller scale. Right now, he estimates that there are
between 20 and 25 commercial haulers in Illinois. But he emphasizes
that a program such as this should not be evaluated on the number
of participants alone. "What you really need to look at is
the number of farms - or even more specifically, the number of
acres - impacted by this program. Then its influence becomes significant."
Fonner also said that, from some informal discussions he has
had, he believes legislators in the participating states are "pleased
as punch" that haulers and Extension specialists are taking
the initiative to provide training for members of this industry.
"Legislators know that this is needed, but they don't have
the money or the resources," Fonner noted. "If we can
develop a voluntary program that is not just a rubber stamp, but
actually has some teeth to it, they're going to look favorably
That's good news for everyone, he added. "Every time we
turn around, there are more regulations. And every time we add
regulations, costs go up. This program can provide training and
quality control, without adding regulations. That's the goal."
For more information about this voluntary program, or the Wisconsin
Expo, contact Randy Fonner at 217.333.2611, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The web address for the Professional Nutrient Applicators Association
of Wisconsin is http://www.wimanuremgt.org/.