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noxious weed seed free forage

Noxious Weed Free Forage and Straw (NWFF&S) Certification Program

The purpose of the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) Noxious Weed Free Forage and Straw (NWFF&S) Certification Program is to limit the introduction and spread of noxious weeds through forage and straw onto Idaho United States Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. In addition, the NWFF&S certification program allows for the transportation and sale of certified Idaho forage and straw products into and through states and other boundaries where restrictions are placed on such commodities.

An example of such restrictions include the U.S. Forest Service requirement (Weed Free Hay Order) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that forage used on Idaho USFS and BLM lands be certified as noxious weed free, and fire rehabilitation or roadside maintenance contracts requiring the use of noxious weed free straw or mulch. Once a person enters Idaho USFS and BLM lands, a person cannot possess any non-certified forage, straw or mulch. Baled or compressed hay and forage (hay) cubes are considered forage. Possessing non-certified forage, straw or mulch on these Idaho public lands is subject to penalty.

The following products meet the Idaho USFS and BLM NWFF&S requirements: State Certified Noxious Weed Free Hay, Cubes, and Straw. Pelletized feed meets the Idaho USFS requirements; it is not required to be certified, because the pelletizing process (heat) destroys seed viability. ISDA recommends pre-feeding your animals State Certified Noxious Weed-Free Forage (hay or cubes) or pellets 48 hours prior to entering these public lands. It is also suggested before leaving home, to thoroughly brush and clean hooves to remove potential seeds from your animals.

ISDA is a member of a voluntary national organization called the North American Invasive Species Management Association (NAISMA) http://www.naisma.org/ and has incorporated its forage and straw inspection procedures, called the NAISMA Weed Free Forage Program into the NWFF&S Rules. The purpose of this organization is to set minimum requirements for uniform participation of the various states in the program. There are currently 22 states that participate. Neighboring states of Idaho that are NAISMA members include: Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.

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The ISDA NWFFS program has two standards of certification; however, they follow the same inspection procedures with the exception that they inspect the fields for different noxious weed lists. The first standard is the Idaho State Noxious Weed Free Standard (commonly known as the Idaho Standard). The Idaho Standard noxious weed list is the 70 State noxious weeds. The second standard is the NAISMA Standard (noxious weeds on the NAISMA list plus noxious weeds on the Idaho Standard, for a total of 91 noxious weeds).

If a field is inspected and no noxious weeds were found that are listed on either standard, the field is certified to the NAISMA Standard. If a field is inspected and contains NAISMA noxious weeds, but does not contain noxious weeds on the Idaho Standard list, it may be certified to the Idaho Standard. Approximately 99% of the forage and straw inspected in Idaho is certified to the NAISMA Standard. State certified forage cubes, pellets, and compressed forage bales are certified only to the NAISMA Standard.

The advantage of NAISMA Standard certified products is they can be shipped to neighboring NAISMA states that only recognize that standard. The Idaho Standard certified hay and straw meets the Idaho USFS and BLM NWFFS requirements, however, it may not be accepted by neighboring states.

To help growers meet these requirements, the ISDA has promulgated the NWFF&S Certification Rules (scroll down to page 24). Idaho’s program is managed by ISDA and each county.

For a field to be certified noxious weed free, it must be inspected by an ISDA certified inspector prior to harvest, but no sooner than, ten (10) days BEFORE harvest. There is a fee for the inspection.

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Weed Free Forage

The Weed Free Forage program inspects forage or mulch before it is harvested to ensure there are no noxious weeds in the mulch or forage. The use of certified weed-free forage and mulch is intended to reduce the spread of weeds on public land or other areas where forage or mulch is used.

2021 Weed Free Forage

The Weed Free Forage Directory is an interactive tool including filters to search for producers by city, forage type, and/or bale size and includes a map to easily find producers in your area. The directory is also available as a CSV download .

Keeping the Back Country Weed Free

If you are out riding on the trails this summer, you can help protect our beautiful backcountry from noxious weed invasions by using weed free materials. Noxious weeds negatively impact Washington’s natural areas by out-competing native vegetation, increasing soil erosion, and decreasing native wildlife and fish habitat. The Forest Service, BLM, and other public agencies are requiring weed seed free hay and forage on their lands in order to prevent the spread of invasive species into the backcountry.

In addition to packing certified forage, make sure to feed ride and pack animals weed seed free certified hay at least three days prior to going into the backcountry to ensure any previously consumed weed seeds pass through animals while transitioning to the weed free hay.

Although the North American Invasive Species Management Association (NAISMA) established a national minimum standard for weed free forage and hay, the certification process varies by state. Washington uses the NAISMA standard list of species plus the addition of the complete State Noxious Weed List for the Washington Wilderness Hay & Mulch Management (WWHAM) Program.

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Weed introductions can be preventing by checking hay and mulch for noxious weeds before using. Photo from WSNWCB.

Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) provides a list of WWHAM certified growers and a list of WWHAM certified dealers in Washington. For more information about how to find weed free hay and forage in Washington or how to get certified as WWHAM, see the WSDA website.

Hay growers can contact their local certifying agency to find out about participating in the WWHAM program. For some counties, the inspections are done by WSDA inspectors and for others by certified County Noxious Weed Board staff. In King County, hay growers can contact Mary Fee at the King County Noxious Weed Control Program for more information about getting certified. For other counties in Washington, see the WWHAM Inspection Responsibility Map.

Washington hay growers can get certified by either WSDA inspectors or their local county noxious weed board. Contact WSDA for more information.

Prevention is key in noxious weed control. Not only utilizing weed free hay, but also cleaning gear, vehicles, and animals plays an important role in noxious weed prevention. Arrive with clean gear, and before leaving remove any mud and debris. Let’s keep Washington’s backcountry weed free and beautiful!