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Dealing with COVID-19 disruptions

The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted the lives of nearly everyone in the region.

Empty shelves and purchases limits remind us of how important our food supply chain is, and I thank those working to ensure a consistent food supply.

Penn State Extension and PDA activities have been disrupted, but not shut down, and at this time many services are still available.

In accordance with Gov. Tom Wolf’s executive order, all Penn State Extension offices are closed until further notice. However, county-based educators and staff are working remotely.

Penn State Extension announced previously that all its public, in-person offerings through April 5 would be cancelled, postponed or moved online. These cancellations and postponements now have been extended through May 15.

Although the organization is limiting face-to-face programs, extension educators are providing online content that can be found on the Penn State Extension website. Residents who have questions or need assistance can also call 877-345-0691.

Other critical services are functioning as well.

The Animal Diagnostic Laboratory remains open but with modified staffing levels. However, turn-around time for submissions may be longer than usual.

The Agricultural Analytical Services Laboratory is operating under an emergency contingency plan with limited capacity. Turn-around time for test results may be longer than usual and the lab asks that only high priority samples, which include drinking water and agricultural samples associated with food or crop production, be submitted at this time. Ordinarily, the lab’s soil and water test kits can be purchased at most Penn State Extension county offices, however with offices closed, kits can be ordered online directly from the lab.

Many issues have arisen regarding private pesticide applicator licensing.

First, if your license was set to expire on March 31, or if you need to renew your license for 2020, the expiration and renewal dates have been extended to June 1. This allows private pesticide applicators to legally purchase and make applications of restricted use pesticides until that date. New certification cards are not currently being mailed, but pesticide dealers will be notified of license renewals. At this time, online payment for renewals is recommended as well.

For those whose license expires on March 31, you will have until June 1 to obtain recertification credits and make payment. If your license expires in 2020 and you cannot obtain credits, your license will be suspended, whereby you will have until March 31, 2021 to obtain credits and renew your license. However, one cannot make restricted use pesticide applications until those fulfillments are met.

Penn State Extension has online options for obtaining pesticide credits and in-person trainings will be scheduled when permissible.

For information about trainings or to be notified of in-person meetings, call 814-414-0582. If additional information regarding license requirements, contact PDA at 717-772-5231.

Zach Larson a Penn State Extension Agronomy Educator. In addition to the number above, he can be reached at zmlarson@psu.edu.

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