January 3, 2023

Alberta’s Certified Weed Free Forage Program

Are you a forage producer who is interested in helping to prevent the spread of invasive species? If so, read on to learn more about Alberta’s Certified Weed Free Forage program, how you can participate, and how the Alberta Invasive Species Council (AISC) will help you sell your forage.

Yellowhead County, AB (January 3, 2023) – Invasive species, such as terrestrial invasive plants, are detrimental to Alberta’s economy and environment. They degrade natural areas, decrease biodiversity, and reduce food and habitat for wildlife. Economically, they cost Alberta an estimated $1 billion each year.

Contaminated hay is one means by which invasive plants are spread. To address this, the AISC is promoting the Alberta Certified Weed Free Forage program to potential buyers in an effort to help producers sell their Certified Weed Free Forage.

Yellowhead County has joined other Alberta Municipalities in participating in the Certified Weed Free Forage Program. Below is some general information for forage producers that are interested in having fields inspected to certify their forage as weed free:
• Inspections must be conducted by a Certified Weed Free Forage Inspector within 10 days of harvest. If the crop is not cut within 10 days, a new inspection must be conducted.
• Inspectors may certify all or a portion of a field as ‘weed free’.
• Invasive species may be present in a field certified as weed free if there are no propagative plant parts (e.g., flowers, seed heads, root fragments) present.
• The AISC intends to maintain a publicly available list of producer contact information for producers with inventory of Certified Weed Free Forage.
• Certified Weed Free Forage can be beneficial to purchase and/or produce as it can be a preferred product choice, bring a premium when sold, and prevent invasive species from spreading and becoming established in environmentally sensitive areas.

Weed Free Forage inspections can only be conducted by those with authority under the Weed Control Act (e.g., Weed Inspectors). As such, the actual inspections and certification issuance can only be conducted by weed inspectors who have taken recent Certified Weed Free Forage Inspector Training.

For information on how to get your field inspected, please contact the Yellowhead County Agricultural Department at 780-325-3782 or toll free at 1-800-814-3935.