A bill has been introduced in the Iowa legislature that proposes classifying Palmer amaranth as a primary noxious weed. The weed law gives counties the authority to fine landowners who fail to control noxious weeds, and, if necessary, enter land to control the weed and assess the landowner costs associated with the control efforts. Persons familiar with the legislative process feel there is a good likelihood of the bill being approved.
While there could be a benefit to classifying Palmer amaranth as a noxious weed in Iowa, I am not a fan of the current proposal. Currently there are 25 weeds classified as noxious, and many of these weeds are so common across Iowa that it would take an army (and unlimited budget) to enforce the law. It is unrealistic to expect counties to enforce the law for Palmer amaranth, but ignore other noxious weeds such as velvetleaf, cocklebur, and wild carrot.
There is discussion among state agencies that after the dust has settled to undertake a long overdue revision of the weed law. The intent would be to revise the list to include weeds that: 1) pose a threat to Iowa’s agriculture and natural areas, and 2) are currently not widespread in the state. Palmer amaranth fits both of these criteria.