weed-free forages

Certified Noxious Weed-Free Forages

This article was provided and sponsored by our friends over at Standlee Premium Western Forage®. Standlee provides a wide array of high-quality forage products for livestock, including pellets, cubes, chopped, and bales.

What Are Noxious Weeds?

In order to understand the importance of certified noxious weed-free forages, let’s first look at what noxious weeds are and what threat they pose to our environment.

Noxious weeds grow aggressively and scavenge moisture, nutrients, and sunlight from native plants. Noxious weeds cause harm to the environment by:

  • Crowding out native plants
  • Threatening the pollinators that feed on native plants
  • Interrupting ecosystems and poisoning wildlife and livestock

Why Use Noxious Weed-Free Forages?

The weed-free forage program was initiated to meet the demand for weed-free products that prevent the spread of invasive plant species throughout North America.

Ranchers using "certified noxious weed-free forages" help minimize the spread of noxious weeds. Indeed, certain areas in the western United States require the use of so-called "certified" forage (long-stem and cubes) on public land.

Public land managers may also issue fines for using non-certified forage, especially if wildlife habitat is damaged by the spread of noxious weeds through dirty feed. However, each state’s requirements for Noxious Weed-Free Forage differs, so please check with your state’s Department of Agriculture for details.

What Makes a Feed "Certified"?

Several "certified noxious weed-free forage" programs are based on weed-free forage standards set by the North American Invasive Species Management Association (NAISMA).

Nationwide, there are about 20 State Departments of Agriculture that are members of NAISMA. These Departments combine their state noxious weed species list with the NAISMA-prohibited weed list to create the NAISMA Standard for forage and straw certification.

Certification Process:

  • Forage producers contact their local United States Department of Agriculture office and schedule field inspection prior to the forage harvest.
  • A USDA inspector checks the forage for noxious weeds; once that field is inspected, it must be harvested within 10 days. Forage inspections have zero tolerance for State-identified noxious weed species.
  • The inspector files the Certificate of Inspection with the State Department of Agriculture. Once the certificate has been registered, the forage can then be labeled according to State-specific requirements.

All Standlee forage products that are labeled "noxious weed-free" have been field-inspected to the standards of the Idaho State Department of Agriculture and NAISMA. Select Standlee products are Certified Noxious Weed Free in compliance with the North American Invasive Species Management Association program.

Standlee-certified bagged products include Alfalfa Cubes and Timothy Grass Pellets. Standlee also has certified compressed bales of Alfalfa and Timothy Grass.

Standlee Compressed bales will have a yellow band stamped with the letters NWFFS, meaning Noxious Weed Free Forage Straw, and Standlee bagged products will also have the Idaho State Department of Agriculture logo and certification number in the lower left-hand corner of the bag.

If you aren't using Standlee, is your forage forest friendly?

By Dr. Tania Cubitt Standlee Nutritional Expert


Using certified hay for horses - Krishona Martinson, Equine Extension Specialist - University of Minnesota Extension