Idaho in Action / Noxious Weeds / NWFF&S

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) and has incorporated its forage and straw inspection procedures, called the North American 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.

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 67 State noxious weeds. The second standard is the North American Standard (noxious weeds on the North American list plus noxious weeds on the Idaho Standard, for a total of 85 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 North American Standard. If a field is inspected and contains North American noxious weeds, but does not contain noxious weeds on the Idaho Standard list, it may be certified to the Idaho Standard. Approximately 90% of the forage and straw inspected in Idaho is certified to the North American Standard. State certified forage cubes, pellets, and compressed forage bales are certified only to the North American Standard.

The advantage of North American 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. 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.

Photo Credit:  Dan Safford, ISDA.