May 12, 2020
MEMBER UPDATE
Drive-Up Testing Option to Help Commercial Pesticide Applicators Obtain Certifications 

Starting May 12, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is offering drive-up commercial pesticide applicator exams. Individuals will take the tests in their automobiles to maintain social distancing guidelines to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

The drive-up testing requires preregistration, and the sessions are limited to 20 people per session. The first set of sessions, three sessions each on Tuesday, May 12, and Thursday, May 14, in Story County, are currently full. 

Check the exam sign-up form page for the addition of more dates and times. 

The drive-up method of examination provides the ability to test for any of the commercial certification categories, including aerial (category 11), all agriculture certifications, and all landscape certifications. 
 
Note there are specific rules for test-takers, some of which are different from regular in-person exams. Drive-up testing participants must wear a mask at the testing site and bring a basic calculator, a pencil, and a government-issued ID. 

Additional information and details about the exam are available on the exam registration page .
Governor Reynolds Expected to Update Emergency Declaration
 
During the press conference today, Governor Reynolds announced she had postponed changes to the current emergency declarations. Some of the provisions expire on Friday, and the Governor said she is expecting to take additional steps to loosen some restrictions when the data and information warrant that change.  

Regulatory relief related to the agriculture industry is part of a different set of provisions that run until May 27, unless the Governor extends the State Public Health Emergency Declaration.
Some Improvements in Livestock Sector, Major Backlogs Continue 

Packing plants are back in operation but running at a slower pace. During the Secretary of Agriculture’s Livestock call Tuesday morning, it was noted that there are about 600,000 hogs backed up in the system. There is some hope that if packing plants continue to operate, they will be able to reduce the number of excess hogs in the system during June and July. Small packing operations are running extra hours to process meat for the Pass the Pork program with the state of Iowa providing inspectors at no cost during those times to allow the processing. 

Cattle are carrying significantly more weight in Iowa than in surrounding states, and the Schuyler, Nebraska processing plant is currently shut down. The extra stress from heavyweights and environmental factors could be an issue heading into summer. 

Eleven plants have completed testing for COVID-19, with more testing continuing at other plants. Deputy Epidemiologist Dr. Ann Garvey from the Iowa Department of Public Health said the focus is to broaden the testing to make it more of a community testing event while still focusing on testing for all packing plant employees. The state is anticipating additional guidance from the federal level for ongoing surveillance testing now that most packing plant employees have been checked. 

The Agribusiness Association of Iowa (AAI) is an invited member of the Livestock call, and association staff takes part in the conference call each week. Both AAI staff and AAI members also take part in the Agriculture Secretary’s Crop Production Call each Thursday. AAI provides updates from the Crop Production Call in the weekly Take Five newsletter. 
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