A move to promote professional standards within the pest control sector has been hailed as positive news for the farming industry.
New rules mean members of leading trade body the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) must now meet strict criteria relating to their professional credentials.
And Simon Forrester, chief executive of the not-for-profit BPCA, believes the decision will help raise the bar both for members and their customers in agriculture.
He said: “This is a positive step that can only be good news for everyone involved.
“It will ensure our members stay ahead of the game and will have strong benefits for end users too.
“The pest control sector is awash with people who are not true specialists in the field and that can create big problems for farmers and farming managers, who need the job done properly at the first time of asking.
“But as we now insist all member companies and individuals must be trained to industry standards, we can be totally confident they’ll provide the best possible professional service.
“It sends out a strong message that when people use members carrying our logo, they can have peace of mind that the job will be done properly.”
The new rules, introduced at the start of the year, make it obligatory for every member of the BPCA involved in the eradication and control of pests to hold at least one of a list of industry-standard qualifications.
They include the Level 2 Award in Pest Management, Level 2 Certificate in Pest Control, BPC Diploma Part 1, RSPH Certificate in Pest Control or NVQ in Pest Control.
All members must also take part in a recognised Continuing Professional Development (CPD) scheme such as BASIS PROMPT.
Mr Forrester added: “Farmers can spend a lot of money on pest control, so it’s crucial for them that jobs are done properly.
“Our new rules act as an assurance that BPCA members are fully qualified to deal with all species of both rodents and insects and will be well versed in integrated pest management, the use of chemicals and Health and Safety issues too.
“And because we now insist members take part in a recognised CPD scheme, they’ll always be up to date with the latest techniques and developments.
“That’s particularly important in an industry where changes occur so quickly in terms of new products, new legislation and even new pests.”
The new criteria will have further positive implications for the environment sector as companies must agree to regular audit and assessment as part of their membership of the body.
Mr Forrester said: “We check and regularly re-check all the pest control companies registered with us to ensure they’re legitimate, professional and fully insured.
“We look at their books and make sure all staff are both fully trained and maintaining that knowledge.
“That means any farms using our member companies can rest assured that their job will be left in safe and capable hands.
“We wanted membership of the BPCA to become the mark of a true professional and this move takes us a long way towards that goal.”