A bill that declares the spotted knapweed a noxious weed gained passage last week in the Missouri General Assembly, Rep. Don Wells of Cabool announced Friday. The plant, which starves out grass and quickly spreads, is now found in Texas County.
Wells worked to gain passage of legislation during the final week of the session that ended Friday to address what has become a growing program for landowners in southern Missouri. The plant, which has a pinkish bloom, can be found on rights-of-way in the county.
Wells’ bill was included as part of a larger agriculture bill that made its way through the Missouri General Assembly.
The weed produces a toxin via the roots that kills plants in its root zone. Left unchecked, the weed is a threat to pastures and fields. By declaring the plant a noxious weed, the bill requires state agencies and municipalities to control its spread and to eradicate it by approved means.
“Spotted knapweed is still relatively new to the area, and it is important that we act quickly to ensure it does not spread beyond roadside areas into our fields and pastures where it could cause a serious decline in forage and crop production,” said Wells. “I worked diligently to have my legislation approved to deal with this issue, and I am excited we are able to pass it through with the Senate bill (931). We can now proceed with combating the spread of spotted knapweed and eradicate this nuisance once and for all.”
The weed is prevalent in southern Missouri. The Missouri Department of Transportation estimates about 4,500 acres of rights-of-way are infested with the weed. It estimates a treatment cost of about $35.75 per acre for the product recommended for control. Wells said costs would continue for several years as eradication of the plant would not occur with a single treatment.
In addition to the spotted knapweed provision, Senate Bill 931 also contains language that ensures Missouri’s participation in the National Animal Identification System will remain voluntary. The bill states Missouri will support a voluntary animal identification program where producers can make the decision on their own to participate. Additionally, the bill clarifies that in order for the state to go from a voluntary to a mandatory program, the Missouri Department of Agriculture must obtain permission from the Missouri General Assembly.
The bill awaits the governor’s signature.