Certified Weed Free Forage Program

In 2001, the Santa Clara County Agricultural Commissioner's office initiated a certification program for weed free forage production.  Fields of oats, alfalfa and orchard grass hay, and oat straw within the county were certified through the program, making Certified Weed Free Forage (CWFF) products locally available.

Hay, raw feeds, and straw can contain germinable weeds if grown in fields where weeds are allowed to produce seeds or rhizomes.  Noxious weeds can be spread into new areas by domesticated animals and mulches used for erosion control.  Verifying that animal feed and mulch is weed free before it is used in an area can prevent the spread of weeds.  Prevention programs are much simpler and cheaper than detection, control, or eradication programs for weeds that are already established. 

In 1998, agencies in California began taking steps towards making weed-free hay and straw widely available, without undue increase in cost to the end-user.  The current plan is to phase in the use of certified weed-free products by federal land management agencies (e.g. U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management) over a 3-year period.  The year 2002 would focus on intensive education.  In 2003, the federal agencies would sign special orders restricting the use of anything but certified hay and straw, but people found violating the orders would receive only warnings.  In 2004, full enforcement would be in effect.  It is believed that the public land requirements (know as closure orders or special orders) are necessary not only to bring about effective prevention of weed spread, but also to give growers the incentive to get their fields certified by their local agricultural commissioner, knowing that a market for these products will exist.

The California Agricultural Commissioners and Sealers Association (CACASA) formed a Weed Free Forage Subcommittee early in 1999 to develop and implement a weed free certification process, which will comply with Weed Free Forage requirements on federal lands in the Sierra Nevada.  Materials included in this program are hay, straw, and mulch.  The subcommittee has drafted procedures for certifying forage as "weed-free".  Weed free is defined as being free of propagative parts of plants on the noxious weed list of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. 

If you are interested in taking part in the CWFF Program, contact the Santa Clara County Division of Agriculture. 

For More Information Please Contact:

Santa Clara County Division of Agriculture
605 Tennant Avenue, Suite G
Morgan Hill, CA 95037
Phone: (408) 465-2900

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