Directors of the California Certified Crop Adviser program are stepping up their effort to entice licensed Pest Control Advisers and other California agricultural consultants to become certified CCAs.

Unlike the state-mandated PCA program, the California CCA program is a voluntary certification program for individuals who provide advice to growers on crop management, primarily in agronomy and more specifically fertilizer and water use. CCA's must meet educational standards set by the American Society of Agronomy including passing rigorous examinations, maintaining continuing education and subscribing to a code of ethics.

Veteran California PCA Allan Romander of Vernalis, Calif., in San Joaquin County, has been a CCA for 12 years. He is a CCA program director and heads the organization's new marketing committee which hopes to double California CCA membership from 500 to 1,000 with an aggressive information campaign

Romander says his CCA certification has worked for him because a CCA has a far greater range of expertise.

“PCAs are certified to advise only in pest protection and not in other areas of agronomy. With CCA certification, the consultant has a far greater range of verified expertise in ag production and thus more value to the producer,” said Romander, adding some ag retailers a require CCA participation. Other retailers have encouraged PCAs to participate.

Unfortunately, Romander has discovered that during his 12 years as a CCA, “there is a virtual total ignorance of the program in the grower community. If the growers were fully aware of what a CCA brings to the table, they would most certainly prefer a PCA with CCA certification. It worked for me!”

This is the mission of Romander's committee.

The California CCA program is funded in part through a grant from the Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP), a division of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

“We view CCAs as a mechanism to promote the FREP goal: advance the environmentally safe and agronomically sound use and handling of commercial fertilizer materials,” said Kent Kitade, who administers the FREP program at CDFA. “The more messengers, the more efficiently plant nutrition advice based upon environmentally safe and agronomically sound principles is disseminated. Environmental regulatory agencies are targeting agriculture as a source of pollution. Well-informed CCAs developing sound nutrient management plans may play a key role in ensuring that growers are receiving sound agronomic advice that also protects the environment.”

CCAs have been certified by the federal government to be an agent for farmers in developing implementation plans for the array of USDA conservation programs now available.

“This will bring added value to the CCA certification,” said Romander.

The next CCA exams are scheduled for Feb. 2 next year. Once certified, CCAs must earn 40 hours of continuing education every two years.

Western Farm Press currently offers seven free online continuing education courses at www.westernfarmpress.com that are certified by CCA as well as the Department of Pesticide Regulation and the Arizona Department of Agriculture for PCAs in California and Arizona‥

To bolster its service to licenses CCAs, the association's directors have contracted with the California Association of Pest Control Advisers (CAPCA) to manage the program in California.

Darci Sagara is the CaCCA Contact person and Robert Fry as Board Chair, the California CCA Board has reevaluated where it is and where it needs to go.

There are about 15,000 CCAs nationwide and in Canada.