Retailer and Distributor Information

Retailers and distributors should be aware of state and federal laws and regulations related to the use, sale, manufacturing and distribution of pesticides.  Before any pesticide can be sold, offered for sale or used in Virginia, it must first be registered with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS).  Retail nurseries and greenhouses also need to be aware of the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) and its requirements if they are involved in plant production and use pesticides.  Plant production would include maintaining plants that are being kept for retail sale.

Pesticide Product Registration
Virginia law requires that all pesticides which are manufactured, distributed, sold, offered for sale, used or offered for use within the Commonwealth be registered with the Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  If you’re not sure whether the products you sell or distribute are considered pesticides, visit the What is a pesticide? page of this website.  Businesses which sell or offer for sale any pesticide must make sure that all products being sold or offered for sale are currently registered in the State of Virginia.  These businesses can check the registration status of their products the Product Registration page of the VDACs website.  They can use one of the online databases found there to query products available in the store and determine if the registration is current.

Under the Virginia Discontinuance Policy, registrants are asked to notify VDACS two years prior to cancelling a pesticide product’s state registration.  They are also supposed to notify “first line distributors.”  First line distributors would be those businesses which first purchase the products from the registrant for the purpose of resale and could include distributors or retailers.  In some cases, the registrants sell directly to the end-user.  If that is the case, they should notify customers of their plans to discontinue the product.  If you sell pesticides, check with your supplier to see how they communicate information about a pesticide’s registration.

Inspectors from the Office of Pesticide Services routinely conduct marketplace inspections to determine whether the products being sold are currently registered federally and with the Commonwealth of Virginia.  If an unregistered product is found, then a Stop Sale Order will be issued to the retailer or distributor of the product.  If the registrant is still in business, they will be contacted as well.  Some registrants will take steps to register the products while others will either recall it or provide information on its disposal.

Related Resources:

Pesticide Business License
Businesses which distribute, store, sell, recommend for use, mix or apply pesticides may be required to obtain a pesticide business license prior to conducting related business activities.

A pesticide retailer, distributor or dealer would need a license if they meet any of the following criteria:

  • They sell restricted use pesticides; or
  • They make pesticide recommendations; or
  • They sell products that are not intended for homeowner use (i.e., for use by commercial applicators, agricultural, industrial, etc.); or
  • They purchase at wholesale costs, $50,000 or more in products for resale purposes annually.

Employee Training
If a business either sells restricted use pesticides or makes recommendations related to the use of pesticides, they will need to have an employee trained as a certified commercial applicator.  For training requirements, visit the Pesticide Applicator Certification page of the VDACS website.  Other Businesses that are not exempt from the business licensing requirement may be required to have an employee take the Virginia Pesticide Business License Examination.  The exam is only required if the non-exempt business does not have a certified commercial applicator employed.
If a business is exempt from the Business Licensing requirement, employees will still benefit from training related to pesticide safety and Integrated Pest Management (IPM).  The following resources are not intended to be used to prepare for certification, but will provide employees with a greater understanding of pesticides, IPM, and other related issues.  Some courses provide certificates of completion which are not to be confused with the commercial certification offered by VDACS.

Worker Protection Standard training may also be required if a business has a retail nursery or greenhouse and applies pesticides to plants that are offered for sale.  This training is required for all employees of businesses which produce agricultural plants when pesticides which reference the Worker Protection Standard are used.  These requirements will be noted in the Agricultural Use section of the label.  If an employee is certified as either a commercial applicator or a registered technician, they have already met the requirements for training under the Worker Protection Standard.  If employees are not certified, they will need to be trained as either a handler or a worker depending on their work duties. 
To learn more about the Worker Protection Standard, visit the Worker Protection Standard page of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website.

Retail Storage and Display Practices
Retailers and distributors are responsible for storing pesticides in a way that will not endanger humans and the environment, or food, feed, or any other products that may be transported, stored, displayed, or distributed with the pesticides.  They should review the labels of pesticides which they sell and make sure their storage methods comply with related label storage instructions.

If located in Virginia, retailers and distributors of pesticides need to be familiar with the storage and display requirements of the Virginia Pesticide Control Act (Act) and the Regulations Created Pursuant to the Act (Regulations) as well as other state and federal laws and regulations related to storage and display of pesticide, poisonous or toxic substances and/or hazardous materials. Both the Act and Regulations can be viewed by clicking here. Other related laws and regulations may be viewed on the Related Laws and Regulations page of this website.

The Regulations state the following under 2VAC5-670-150. Handling and Storage:

No person shall handle, transport, store, display, or distribute pesticides in a manner which may endanger humans and the environment, or food, feed, or any other products that may be transported, stored, displayed, or distributed with the pesticides.

Store owners, managers and personnel should pay attention to the areas where pesticides are kept in storage or display to make sure the pesticides will not be a potential risk to employees and customers or could contaminate other merchandise. If a retailer which sells pesticides also prepares or sells food products, they also need to comply with the Food Regulations which are administered by the Virginia Department of Health. Under the Food Regulations, poisonous or toxic materials (such as pesticides) are to be stored and displayed so they cannot contaminate food, equipment, utensils, linens, and single-service and single-use articles. The Food Regulations provide the following methods for preventing contamination of the described products and articles:

  1. Separate the poisonous or toxic materials by spacing or partitioning; and
  2. Locate the poisonous or toxic materials in an area that is not above food, equipment, utensils, linens, and single-service or single-use articles.

To learn more about storage and display of retail pesticides visit the following websites:

Pesticide Disposal
While retailers and distributors hope to sell all of the pesticides they have in stock, that may not always occur.  There are three primary reasons a retailer or distributor would have to dispose of a pesticide instead of selling it.

  • The product is no longer registered with the state and federal government.  Even if a manufacturer maintains the federal registration of a product, the product still has to be registered with VDACS.  If a product is not registered with VDACS, it cannot be sold, offered for sale, distributed, used, or offered for use (i.e., samples).  Likewise, unless a pesticide is exempted from federal registration, it would have to be registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) prior to sale. Retailers need to plan in advance to prevent the loss of revenue related to unregistered pesticide products.  This can be done with careful planning to only purchase inventory for the current season. 
  • The product container has become damaged.  Under §3.2-3939(A)(2) of the Virginia Pesticide Control Act, a pesticide cannot be sold, offered for sale, or offered for use that is not in the manufacturer’s unbroken container.  Additionally, the container must have an affixed and visible label with the following information:
    • The name and address of the manufacturer, registrant, or person for whom it was manufactured.
    • The name, brand, or trademark under which said pesticide is sold; and
    • The net weight or measure of the content.

If any portion of the label is missing, obstructed, or illegible, the product could be considered misbranded. Pesticides cannot not be sold without the original manufacturer's labeling.

Efforts should be taken to store products in a manner which will prevent accidental damage.  When containers or packages are damaged, appropriate personal protective equipment for employees and suitable spill cleanup materials must be readily available.  Retailers, distributors, and dealers need to make sure that customers and other unprotected employees do not enter areas where there is a pesticide spill. 

For more information about handling a pesticide spill, visit the following Pesticide Environmental Stewardship webpage- Pesticide Spills-Prevention and Cleanup.  Have your employees study the information on the website, and then take a brief quiz related to pesticide spill prevention and cleanup by completing the Spill Educational Module found there.

  • The product is adulterated or becomes unusable for some reason.  By law, products which have been contaminated with other substances cannot be sold, offered for sale, distributed, or offered for use.  Pesticides do not remain effective indefinitely and the shelf life will vary depending on the formulation and the ingredients.  For dry formulations such as granular or dusts, exposure to moist conditions may cause clumping.  Temperature extremes (freezing or temperatures over 100 degrees F) can cause chemical breakdown and a reduction in shelf life. The pesticide manufacturer or distributor should be contacted for information about the shelf life of a specific pesticide product. 

The following chart from Cornell University’s Cooperative Extension describes some signs of breakdown.
Formulation                         Signs of breakdown
oil sprays                          sludge forms, solution separates
emulsifiable conc.           addition of water does not produce a milky solution
wettable powders            lumping, powder will not mix with water
dusts and granules          excessive lumping
aerosols                           generally effective until nozzle clogs or propellant is dissipated

Source:  Shelf Life of Pesticides, J Capizzi, OPEW (Vol. XI, No. 3)

Refilling and Repackaging of Pesticides
Businesses which sell refillable pesticide containers or repackage pesticides into refillable containers should be familiar with EPA’s Pesticide Container Containment Rule.

Illegal and Counterfeit Pesticide Products
EPA Resources

Related Associations