Agriculture - Frequently Asked Questions

You've asked and we've answered! Find answers to commonly asked questions below.

General Questions

Pursuant to RI General Law, Section 2-1-22, a farmer is defined as "an individual, partnership or corporation who operates a farm and has filed a 1040F U.S. Internal Revenue Form with the Internal Revenue Service, has a state farm tax number and has earned ten thousand dollars ($10,000) gross income on farm products in each of the preceding four (4) years.

Tax exempt certificates are issued by the RI Division of Taxation, Field Audit Section. You can contact the department at 401-574-8962 or download the application here.

Rhode Island General Laws, Chapter 22-1-2 defines farming activities that are considered normal farming activities or insignificant alterations and therefore do not require you to file an application.

Animal Health

Yes. Doggie Daycare (also known as "Social Boarding") does require a Boarding Kennel License from Division of Agriculture Animal Health Section. It may also require a Kennel License and zoning approval through the municipality.

Boarding tips:

  • In order to Board your pet, it must be currently vaccinated for Rabies.
  • Most Boarding Kennels also require other vaccines for your pet. Check with them well in advance.
  • Some Boarding Kennels can also accommodate birds or other small pets.

Contact RI DEM's Division of Agriculture, Animal Health Section at 401-222-2781.

Most RI Municipalities have a Pound or Shelter with animals available for adoption. RI also has a number of Private Shelters with Facilities you can visit to look for a new pet. There are also many Rescues based outside of RI that are registered with our office and can adopt dogs. DEM Animal Shelter Statistics Public Search

Adoption tips:

  • Check with Pound/Shelter/Rescue for adoption policies
  • Sometimes their animals are available for viewing and sometimes they are still in another state.
  • If coming from out of state, animal must have a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI aka "Health certificate").
  • All Adopting Agencies must provide proof of current rabies vaccination if age eligible and animal must be spayed or neutered.

Yes, but first you must register with our office.

Check the list of registered rescues. If you do not see the Rescue you are looking for, call our office to see if they have registered.

Rescue tips:

  • Rescues and Private Shelters must provide proof of Non-profit status(such as Federal 501 c (3) or Domestic Non profit in RI or state of origin).
  • If Rescue is based outside of Rhode Island, they must also have a point of contact within RI that is responsibly for maintaining required records.

Report the abuse to the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RISPCA) online or at 401-438-8150. You can also report the abuse to the Rhode Island Division of Agriculture - Animal Health Section at 401-222-2781.

The Division of Agriculture/Animal Health section investigates all written complaints. Click here for a list of concerns and information on who to contact.

View the Rhode Island Rules and Regulations Governing the Importation of Domestic Animals or contact RI DEM Division of Agriculture/Animal Health Section at 401-222-2781 for specific species entry requirements.

Only your veterinarian is authorized to complete and sign a Health Certificate or CVI. Your veterinarian must contact RI DEM's Division of Agriculture, Animal Health Section at 401-222-2781 for Small Animal, Equine & Large Animal Health Certificates. Equine Infectious Anemia forms are provided by USDA Veterinary Services.

Animal Health staff cannot provide veterinary care to your animals. We also cannot recommend one veterinarian over another. Please contact the Rhode Island Veterinary Medical Association online or at 401-751-0944 for a listing of veterinarians who may be able to help you.

RI Animal Health does not regulate exportation of animals to another state or country. Please contact the state of destination for their animal import requirements or visit the USDA State Regulations website.

Contact the USDA Veterinary Services at 508-363-2290. They are responsible for all foreign shipments of animals, including to Mexico and Canada. You may also visit the USDA import/export website.

Exotic wild animals may only be possessed under a permit issued by the Division of Agriculture. Please see the regulations that govern issuance of a permit.

The definitions and list of required-to-be-permitted and exempted animals can be found in the Rules and Regulations Governing Importation and Possession of Wild Animals.

Possession Permit Application for an Exotic Wild Animal

Exotic Pet tips:

  • Application must be approved prior to acquisition on animals.
  • Pet stores must permit any Exotics for sale or exhibit
  • Application is no guarantee of approval.

The Division of Agriculture (DoA) tracks sales of ferrets; Ferret licensing for private ownership is not handled by the DoA, but instead falls under the jursdiction of DEM's Division of Fish & Wildlife. View Rhode Island Domestic Ferret Possession Information Sheet. The direct extension for ferret licensing is (401) 789-0281.

Native wildlife can only be possessed under a permit issued by the Division of Fish and Wildlife. Please see the Rules and Regulations Governing Importation and Possession of Wild Animals regarding issuance of a permit.

The Division of Agriculture/Animal Health section does not have jurisdiction over issues involving wildlife. View native RI wildlife factsheets and resources for nuisance wildlife, or contact RI DEM's Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Call RI DEM's Law Enforcement Division at 401-222-3070. If you have found what you think is an injured or orphaned wild animal, please contact DEM before taking action so we can assess the situation with you in real time. Not all circumstances require intervention or may require special instructions.

Please note that it is not legal in Rhode Island to keep or raise wild animals without a permit and native wildlife, including all species of turtles, cannot legally be kept as pets.

In Rhode Island, Striped Skunks, Red & Grey Foxes, Woodchucks, Raccoons, and all species of Bats are considered to be Rabies Vector Species (RVS). If you come across an individual of any of these species that you think may be in distress or in need of assistance, please DO NOT TOUCH them with your bare hands.

We cannot give you any health advice. You should contact your family practitioner, or doctor, and the Rhode Island Department of Health Disease Control at 401-222-2577.

Native wildlife can only be possessed under a permit issued by the Division of Fish and Wildlife. Please see the Rules and Regulations Governing Importation and Possession of Wild Animals regarding issuance of a permit.

Yes! The Washington County Fair is held every August in Richmond, RI.

Farmland Ecology

The application to apply for a wetlands permit can be found here: Wetlands Permit Application

Information on how to sell development rights can be found on the Division of Agriculture's Farmland Preservation Program page.

Ag Business & Development

These types of vegetables are not restricted for domestic shipment into the state of Rhode Island. If vegetables are entering the United States from an international origin, you would need to meet USDA International Requirements. The summary of requirements for shipping plant material into Rhode Island can be found on the National Plant Board's Website.

The value of Rhode Island fresh fruits and vegetables sold directly from the farm to consumers (via farmers markets, roadside stands, etc.) is third in the nation at approximately $25,269 per farm* (Based on 249 direct-market locations statewide).

There are currently close to 1,200 farms in the state that encompass over nearly 68,000 acres of land, which is approximately 11% of the land in the state of Rhode Island.

The total market value of Rhode Island Agriculture, measured in 2007 by USDA, is approximately $66,000,000 per year (2007 Census of Agriculture USDA- NASS). That amounts ranks Rhode Island in the top 10 in the nation for its value of production per acre and in net farm income per acre. The total market value of Rhode Island Agriculture as measured in 2012 by the Rhode Island Agriculture Economic Impact Survey, is $170.7 million dollars; it contributes 1,790 jobs to the Rhode Island Economy. Including indirect effects, the total economic impact of agriculture to the state is $268.2 million dollars and 2,330 jobs.

The foundation for all horse breeding in the United States was established in Rhode Island as early as 1676 followed by the establishment of the American Poultry Industry in 1854, and the Rhode Island Greening Apple was the first named apple in America.

24% of all Rhode Island farmers are women. The average age of all the farmers in the state is 56.3 and the average size of a farm in the state is 56 acres.

Mosquito Abatement

For information on mosquito-borne diseases go to RIDEM and RIDOH.

Yes. A principal duty of the Mosquito Abatement Coordination (MAC) Office is to conduct surveillance of mosquito-borne diseases as an early warning system. Adult mosquitoes are trapped statewide weekly from June through September. Samples are then tested at the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) Laboratory for the presence of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus (WNV). Appropriate responses to suppress disease carrying mosquito populations are based on those results. Learn more and view in-season testing results.

The most effective way to reduce the risk of acquiring EEE and WNV is to reduce exposure to mosquito bites. Mosquito biting is more prevalent at dawn and dusk, in the shade and at temperatures above 55 degrees. Wearing protective clothing and using repellents containing DEET are effective ways for reducing risk. It is also important to maintain screens and prevent stagnant water from collecting in artificial containers around the home. View RIDOH's website at www.health.ri.gov/mosquito for more mosquito prevention tips.

Two methods used in RI for controlling mosquito populations are larvaciding and adulticiding.

Plant Industry

For more information on plant laws and regulations, click to view the Nursery Licensing, Inspection and Certification FAQ Sheet.

RI Nursery Law requires that, prior to offering Nursery Stock for sale in RI, either a Nursery Worker's License or a Nursery Stock Dealer's License must be obtained through the RI DEM Division of Agriculture. Links to Nursery Laws and Regulations can be found on the RI Secretary of State's Code of Regulations and RI General Laws.

"Nursery stock" means all hardy, deciduous and evergreen trees, shrubs, vines and other plants having a persistent woody stem, whether wild or cultivated, and plant parts, for and capable of propagation. For questions about specific plants, please contact Matt Green at the Division of Agriculture.

"Nursery worker" means the person who owns, leases, manages, or is in charge of a "Nursery", which is any grounds or premises where nursery stock is propagated, grown, or cultivated, or from which nursery stock is collected for sale purposes. A "Dealer" is any person, not a grower or an original producer of nursery stock, and who is independent of the control of any nursery worker or other dealer, who sells, offers to sell, solicits orders for or otherwise traffics in nursery stock from a supply at hand or which is obtained from a nursery or another dealer. A Dealer's activity may include holding nursery stock by heeling-in, for purposes other than propagation or growth.

The Nursery Worker's License annual fee is $50; Nursery Stock Dealer's License annual fee is $50 per sales location. All licenses expire annually on March 31. In order to maintain a license, an application must be submitted with payment of fees annually prior to the March 31 date of expiration.

To obtain a Nursery Worker's License, your nursery stock will be inspected and certified. At least once each year during the growing season, all nurseries in the state of Rhode Island are inspected to ascertain whether they are infested with injurious plant pests. If the nursery and the nursery stock are apparently free from injurious plant pests, a nursery stock inspection certificate is issued.

Plants in the genus Ribes, i.e. Currants, Gooseberries, Jostaberries, etc. The White Pine Blister Rust Control Act was enacted in Rhode Island to protect native white pines from white pine blister rust, which is transmitted by plants of the genus Ribes. According to this Act, a permit from DEM/Div. of Agriculture are required for import into or transport within the state ($50 permit fee) and planting ($50 permit fee) of Ribes species plants in Rhode Island. This Act prohibits the possession, transport, planting, propagation or sale of black currants (Ribes nigrum) and the planting of flowering currants (Ribes aureum and Ribes odoratum) in the state and limits the planting of other Ribes species such as red and white currants and gooseberries to designated low-hazard areas.

Additionally, movement into or within Rhode Island is prohibited for all Federal noxious weeds designated by USDA APHIS in 7CFR Part 360-Noxious Weed Regulations.

Inspection and certification provides the basis for compliance with laws and regulations governing the movement of plants domestically and internationally. Plant shipments that do not meet certification requirements of the destination state or country may be refused entry or require quarantine or treatment at their destination. DEM Division of Agriculture conducts Phytosanitary Inspection and Certification to assist Rhode Island exporters of plant material in complying with the phytosanitary requirements of other states and countries. Summaries of requirements for shipments of plant materials domestically to US states and territories can be found on the National Plant Board website: http://nationalplantboard.org/laws/index.html Summaries of requirements for shipments of plant materials internationally can be found on the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Phytosanitary Export Database (PExD).

States, territories and the federal government all may place quarantines restricting the movement of regulated articles of plant material for the purpose of preventing the spread of certain harmful plant pests outside of a regulated area, or into or through protected areas. Examples of quarantines for which nurseries must enter into a state/federal compliance agreement for interstate shipment of plant materials to destinations requiring certification are: Gypsy Moth (field-grown nursery stock); Black Stem Rust (Berberis, Mahoberberis, & Mahonia spp.); and Pine Shoot Beetle (Pinus spp.). The U.S. Domestic Japanese Beetle Harmonization Plan facilitates movement of plant materials and soil outside of the Japanese Beetle quarantine area. Movement of plant material into the state also is regulated to prevent entry of plant pests including Asian Longhorned Beetle, Emerald Ash Borer, and Phytophthora ramorum (Sudden Oak Death). Information on these and other plant pests and related regulated articles can be found on the USDA APHIS Plant Pest Program website. Other states and territories quarantine summaries are listed on The National Plant Board website.

In order for agricultural products to be represented as Organic in the US, they must have been produced and handled in accordance with the USDA National Organic Program Standards. RIDEM Division of Agriculture is an organic certification agency accredited by USDA NOP.

Please review the Organic Certification Program.

Pesticides

Anyone who applies pesticides on other people's property needs to get a commercial pesticide applicator's license to apply general use (over the counter) pesticides. Farmers and farm workers who apply restricted use and state limited use pesticides to produce an agricultural commodity need to get a private applicator's certificate. Dealers who sell restricted use pesticides and state limited use pesticides to certified applicators need to get a pesticide dealer's license.

To get a commercial pesticide applicator's license, one must pass the pesticide core exam, which is given at DEM's Foundry office at 235 Promenade Street in Providence, by appointment. The applicator must also provide an insurance certificate as proof of financial responsibility, have a letter of employment from their employer, and pay the $30.00 licensing fee.

After one has taken and passed the Core exam, one needs to take and pass a Category exam, for each category that one wishes to get certification in. One may obtain the study material from the List of Approved Online Courses. Category exams are given at DEM's Foundry office at 235 Promenade Street in Providence, by appointment.

The commercial categories are listed in Section 2.16 of the Rules and Regulations Relating to Pesticides.

To get a private applicator's certificate, one must pass the pesticide core exam, which is given at DEM's Foundry office at 235 Promenade Street in Providence, by appointment. In addition, the private applicator needs to take and pass a commodity exam, which is given at the same time as the pesticide Core exam. Passing the commodity and core exams is required to obtain a private applicator's certificate. After passing the core and commodity exams, the private applicator must pay a $20.00 certification fee to activate the certification.

The Commodity exams are exams given for the main commodity that a private applicator produces. The commodities available for exams are: fruit, greenhouse, livestock, nursery/Christmas tree, turf and vegetables. A private applicator takes a commodity exam based on their main commodity, although they may produce more than one commodity.

A private applicator is allowed to apply restricted use and state limited use, pesticides on each commodity that he or she produces, after he or she has taken one commodity exam and obtained a private applicator's certificate.

A private applicator does not need to obtain a private applicator's certificate, in order to apply general use pesticides to produce agricultural commodities on land that he or she owns or rents.

If one applies general use pesticides to farms, for hire, one needs a commercial pesticide applicator's license. If one applies restricted use pesticides or state limited use to farms, for hire, one needs a commercial pesticide applicator's certification in category 1A: Agricultural Plant Pest Control or 1B: Agricultural Animal Pest Control.

To get a pesticide dealer's license, one must pass the pesticide dealer's exam, which is given at DEM's Foundry office at 235 Promenade Street in Providence, by appointment. The pesticide dealer must then pay a $30.00 licensing fee to activate the license.

Private applicators need to take six (6) hours of recertification training every five years, in order to maintain their certification. Commercially certified applicators need to take eight (8) hours of recertification training every five years, per category, in order to maintain their certification. Commercially licensed applicators need to ake eight (8) hours of recertification training every five years, in order to maintain their licenses.

Please see our Pesticides Safety & IPM page.

When a training is approved by RI DEM, the training sponsor is provided with attendance sheets to distribute to attendees. You must keep copies of attendance sheets/certificates from the courses you attend. These sheets must have the date, course name, number of credits, and category of credits listed on the paper. DEM does not track or maintain your credits; when it is your recertification year, please mail in copies of these proof of credits with your license renewal paperwork so you may be audited. Your renewal form will tell you if it is your year to recertify your license.

Commercial pesticide applicators need insurance in order to maintain a pesticide license or certificate.

The insurance requirements are given in section 2.21 of the Rules and Regulations Relating to Pesticides.

The insurance certificate from the employee's employer is all that is required of employees in order to obtain a pesticide license or certificate.

Any pesticide that is classified as "Restricted Use" by the US EPA.

These are listed in section 2.5 of the Rules and Regulations Relating to Pesticides. Any pesticide, which contains acetochlor, alachlor, cyanazine, metolachlor, simazine or dacthal, is a "state limited use" pesticide.

The "last recertification" date, which is listed, is the start of your five-year period. Simply add 5 years to that date, in order to obtain your recertification expiration date.

All private applicator's certificates expire every December 31st, of each calendar year. They are renewed annually. (Do not confuse this with recertification requirements).

All commercial pesticide applicator's certificates expire every January 31st, of each calendar year. They are renewed annually. (Do not confuse this with recertification requirements.)

All commercial pesticide applicator's certificates expire every February 28th (or February 29th, of leap years), of each calendar year. They are renewed annually. (Do not confuse this with recertification requirements.)

If you have not yet received a "failure to renew" letter, that is, you are still within a few months of the expiration date, simply send in your renewal immediately. Follow all normal procedures for renewal. There is no penalty fee with late renewals.

If you missed the renewal date deadline (you received a "failure to renew" letter) and the deadline in that letter has passed, but it is still the same calendar year, you will become eligible to renew by retaking the pesticide core exam, plus any appropriate commodity or category exams. After you have retaken and passed that (those) exam(s), you will become eligible to renew your license or certificate.

If it is longer than one year since you last renewed your license or certificate, you need to retake the pesticide Core exam (plus any category exams, if needed).