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Certified Growers Training Frequently Asked Question


Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who is required to become certified under this new grower training regulation?

All growers and grower farm operators who transport anhydrous ammonia, apply anhydrous ammonia, or otherwise maintain anhydrous ammonia equipment must be certified.  Under the regulation, they are to be certified to understand the properties of ammonia, to become competent in safe operating practices, and to take appropriate actions in the event of a leak or an emergency.

2. If my family members only transport anhydrous ammonia nurse tanks to and from our farm, do they need to complete this training?

Yes.  They are considered a grower farm operator under the regulations, which is defined as "an individual employed by or otherwise authorized by a grower to transport anhydrous ammonia, to apply anhydrous ammonia, or to otherwise maintain anhydrous ammonia equipment. These individuals include grower family members, full- and part-time hired help, and others providing anhydrous ammonia services at no fee."

3. When does the training requirement take effect?

Growers and grower farm operators have until April 1, 2022 to become certified. Their certification will be good for three years from the date they complete the training, after which time they will need to participate in a refresher course.*

*The training requirement is a new addition to state regulations.  Most provisions of the law, however, have not changed and remain in effect, which means they must be followed by anyone who transports or handles anhydrous ammonia, including growers and grower farm operators. If you would like to learn more, the rules and regulations for handling anhydrous ammonia can be found by following this link to the Illinois General Assembly's website.

4. What are my options for completing the training?

Grower safety training will be delivered through both online and in-person instruction.  Growers and grower farm operators can choose whichever method they prefer.  The online course will be available on the Illinois Department of Agriculture website beginning Jan. 1, 2021.  The in-person classes will take place at various locations sponsored by industry groups throughout the state.  However, plans to begin training the trainers who will teach these classes have been put on hold until state mitigations for the coronavirus determine it is safe to resume gathering in group settings. For information about how to become qualified as a trainer, please review this flyer.

5. How long does the training take and how much does it cost?

Times will vary from individual to individual, but most should complete the online course in less than 90 minutes.  We anticipate the in-person classes also will take approximately 90 minutes, but the length could vary depending upon the number of questions that arise. Regardless of which training is chosen, though, it will be provided for free.  The new regulation says, "Certified grower training shall be offered at no cost to the grower or grower farm operator via an attendance-based or online training program approved by the Department."

6. Can everyone who works on my farm gather around a computer and take the online training together?

While it is possible for groups to go through the online training together, only one person can be certified at a time because the state system that hosts the program requires every trainee to have a unique account.  Therefore, while group discussion may be beneficial, everyone ultimately will have to complete the course by themselves by signing on to a computer or tablet and creating their own user account.  

7. If my farm has its own anhydrous ammonia storage, does the grower training requirement replace the need for me and my employees to become certified competent attendants?

No, it does not.  The regulations still require individuals at non-commercial sites such as farms "who make or break connections on anhydrous ammonia equipment while loading or unloading anhydrous ammonia" to become certified as competent attendants.  And, in order to do so, they must complete a separate, Department-approved training.  Determining which certification is appropriate depends upon where the person works.  If he or she works on the riser making or breaking connections to fill nurse tanks, that person needs to be a competent attendant.  If he or she takes possession of the anhydrous ammonia after the tank is filled, whether it's to transport the ammonia from the riser to a farm field or to apply the ammonia to a farm field, that person needs to be a certified grower.

8. Do I need to show proof of certification to buy anhydrous ammonia?

You are not required to be certified to purchase anhydrous ammonia.  Farmers, farm managers and landlords who do not transport or apply anhydrous ammonia, or otherwise maintain anhydrous ammonia equipment, may still place orders for anhydrous ammonia without becoming certified.  However, certification is required to transport or apply anhydrous ammonia or to otherwise maintain anhydrous ammonia equipment.  As a certified grower or grower farm operator, you are required to maintain documentation of your certification.

9. What happens if I don't comply?

The Department fully investigates all anhydrous ammonia releases and complaints.  If you are involved in a release or complaint, your grower certification will be requested and verified.  Violations of the anhydrous ammonia rules and regulations (8 IAC 215), including a failure to complete grower safety training when required, are subject to monetary penalties under the Illinois Fertilizer Act of 1961 (505 ILCS 80/20).

10. Where can I obtain help, if I need it?

Questions about the function of online training program, including the retrieval of forgotten usernames and passwords, should be directed to the Illinois Department of Information and Technology (DoIT) at (217) 524-3648. Questions about the content of the online training program should be directed to the Illinois Department of Agriculture Bureau of Agricultural Products Inspection at (217) 782-3817.