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New manure application license requirements for 2014

Jose A. Hernandez
Extension Educator, University of Minnesota Extension

March 8, 2014

In 2013, the Minnesota legislature and Governor Dayton approved changes to the Commercial Animal Waste Technician (CAWT) licenses. The details in the final approved bill were developed during a series of meetings in 2012 and 2013. All changes in the new CAWT license program were discussed by a group of stakeholders that included manure applicators, feedlot officers, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and University of Minnesota Extension.

Minnesota law requires that companies, site managers and applicators that manage or apply manure for hire obtain a Commercial Animal Waste Technician (CAWT) license from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA).

MDA issues CAWT licenses

MDA issues three types of CAWT licenses:

  1. CAWT company license;
  2. CAWT site manager license; and
  3. CAWT applicator license.

A business may not manage or apply manure to the land unless a CAWT Company license is held. The company license number must be printed on the application equipment. The company must also employ a CAWT Site Manager who must be on-site to oversee operations and supervise applicators applying manure to the ground. The Site Manager must pass a certification exam for the application of liquid, solid or both types of manure to qualify for the license issued by MDA. A licensed Site Manager may apply manure.

A person that is not a licensed Site Manager may not apply manure to the land for hire without a valid CAWT Applicator license. A CAWT Applicator must be certified by MDA and operate under the supervision of a licensed CAWT Site Manager.

When is a CAWT license needed?

A business must hold a license to conduct commercial manure application or manure stockpiling operations. A person applying manure for hire and, in certain instances, private producers managing or applying their own manure to the land must be licensed.

The following are examples of when a license is required:

When is a CAWT license not needed?

Private producers do not need a business, site manager or applicator license in certain situations. The following are examples of when a license is not needed:

How to obtain a license

Application: Apply for a CAWT Company or Site Manager license online. You may obtain a paper application form from MDA. The license application fee is $100 for CAWT Company license and $50 for a CAWT Site Manager license. This is a non-refundable application fee. Fill out the application completely. Indicate on the form what type of manure you apply — solid manure, liquid manure or both. Verify on the application form that financial responsibility obligations are met.

A CAWT License is valid for one (1) year and must be renewed annually.

Preparing for the exam: MDA has study materials available to help you prepare for the open-book exam. All test questions come directly from the study manuals. Contact the MDA to request a study manual.

Certification: You must pass the certification exam for a license to be awarded. Each test contains 100 multiple-choice questions. The test is monitored.

To schedule testing in your area, see CAWT Testing Locations in Greater Minnesota

To schedule testing at the MDA St. Paul office, call 651-201-6633.

Recertification: Prior to renewing your license, you must attend a recertification workshop once every other year. The MDA will approve workshops that meet certain standards, are educational, and include training programs addressing manure applicator concerns, such as water quality protection and the development of manure management plans. The one-day workshops are geared towards liquid and/or solid license categories and must be a minimum of 3 hours long.

For application forms or information, please email to, or call 651-201-6615.

For more information, visit the MDA CAWT Website:

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