A tenacious collaboration by leaders from agriculture, academia, and state government led to a final agreement this year to modernize Arizona pest control advisor license requirements. As a result. the tweaked rules are attracting bright college and university students to the PCA field.

PCA license rule changes in the Arizona Administrative Code R3-3-207 took effect Jan. 5. The makeover will make it easier to replace seasoned PCAs eyeing retirement with a fresh, well trained new workforce.

“The problem is we have an aging Arizona pest control advisor workforce in their 50’s and 60’s and not enough new professionals coming in fast enough to replace the folks who will retire,” said PCA Andy Hancock, president of the Arizona Crop Protection Association (AzCPA).

PCAs are licensed professionals who specialize in pest management and make recommendations to crop growers on ways to improve plant health.

The rule changes evolved out of serious discussions with the AzCPA board, college and university leaders, and the Arizona Department of Agriculture (ADA). Some of the ideas were borrowed from the California PCA licensing program.

The ADA, which administers PCA licensing, is pleased with the new rules.

“It was a great effort of industry and the department working together to make positive changes," said ADA Interim Director Jack Peterson. “The changes allow much more flexibility for applicants while not compromising the scientific background that everyone wanted." 

Peterson added, “We have had several new (PCA) applicants this year so the new rules appear to be working.” 

According to the ADA, there are about 210 registered PCAs in the Grand Canyon State.

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Efforts to improve the Arizona PCA license originated two years ago when AzCPA board member Tyrell Currie discussed current PCA requirements with academia leaders, including University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Director Jeff Silvertooth and Central Arizona College agriculture professor Karen Geldmacher.