Legal issues with Palmer amaranth cropping up in Ohio

With the high stakes involved in the costly spread of glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth, there are inevitable legal implications. In its first run-in with Ohio law, the noxious weed is tangled up with the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

“We are aware of a situation where a farming operation attempted to enroll its land in the CRP with the United States Department of Agriculture. After extensive work and collaboration between the farming operation and USDA, hundreds of acres were seeded to execute the plans that were developed,” said Amanda Stacy, attorney with Barrett, Easterday, Cunningham and Eselgroth LLP. “Unfortunately, the seed mixture that was used contained noxious and non-native plant seeds, including Palmer Amaranth. Because of the presence of this noxious weed, the land has yet to be entered into the CRP, and the landowner cannot receive the CRP payment. The farming operation has been working for many months trying to remove this weed from the land, by killing it, removing it, and waiting to see if there is more germination.”

Looking forward, there are a number of possible legal implications with Palmer amaranth.

“As we have all seen and read, Palmer Amaranth is a noxious weed now present in Ohio that grows at rapid speeds and contains an unimaginable amount of seeds. If this weed continues to spread, the legal impact of the weed will likewise continue to grow,” Stacy said. “The case mentioned above is specific to CRP payments and does not take into consideration the potential issues that could arise if this noxious weed latches onto a field of growing crops, or even prevents a field from being harvested or planted.”

Ohio State University Extension is also involved in the case, and the big picture challenges of the issue.

“It’s important that we err on the side of preventing new infestations of Palmer amaranth in Ohio so that we don’t have similar experiences here. We are working with several agencies to better determine whether seed used to establish CRP does contain Palmer amaranth seed, and if so, what steps need to be taken to make sure this stops. Our recommendation at this point for landowners and growers is to scout recently established CRP areas for the presence of Palmer amaranth,” said Mark Loux, OSU Extension weed control specialist in the CORN Newsletter. “Plants that are not yet producing viable seed (small black seed when you shake or smash seedheads in your hand) should be removed from the field immediately to prevent seed production.”

There is information on identification and management of Palmer amaranth on the OSU and Purdue weed science websites, including short videos on identification that can be reviewed prior to crop harvest at http://agcrops.osu.edu/specialists/weeds/palmer-amaranth.

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