What Does the Pennsylvania Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act Mean to You?
Posted: December 8, 2016
This past year, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture introduced the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act (Senate Bill no. 1110 ) to the PA General Assembly. We hoped the new Act would replace the current Noxious Weed Control Law that has been in place since 1982. Unfortunately, the General Assembly did not vote on the law in 2016, but it will be reintroduced and hopefully enacted in 2017. The new Act will help modernize our noxious weed law by prioritizing invasive plant management based on our ability to effectively contain or even eradicate certain species. In addition, it will help build awareness of problem weed species that require proactive attention.
The new Act groups plants into three categories; Class A weeds are currently geographically limited in the Commonwealth and are intended to be eradicated if at all possible. Kudzu and giant hogweed are good examples of Class A weeds. We have included the two invasive pigweeds (Palmer amaranth and waterhemp) as Class A weeds in the new Act. Class B weeds are widely established in the Commonwealth and it is not feasible to eradicate them. Although they are still important, we recognize that our limited resources must focus on the species we can have the greatest impact on. Canada thistle and multiflora rose are examples of Class B weeds. Class C weeds pose a potential threat if introduced, but currently are not known to exist in the Commonwealth. A number of Federal noxious weeds are Class C weeds.
So, as the title of this article states, what does noxious weed status mean to you? First and foremost, it provides increased awareness to recognize that certain weed species are a big problem. Class A weeds will require proactive management and this will help direct some of our educational efforts. Proactive management reduces the chance of movement and introduction onto your farm or in your area. Of course, there are costs associated with monitoring and managing noxious weeds. With the invasive pigweeds, we are importing seed with other commodities and equipment. This will require additional quality control measures for feed, seed, and forage producers. The seed industry will need to think more about where they are sourcing seed and making sure they have a quality product that does not contain noxious weed seed. Custom equipment operators will need to be diligent about where they operate and about cleaning equipment if they encounter a contaminated farm. Farm supply and export enterprises need to be part of the solution making sure we are not transporting and spreading noxious weeds within or out of the state. In the end, the new Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act should help secure the Commonwealth and be an example to other states of how proactive weed management ensures a productive and profitable agriculture.