Feds Create ‘Super Weed’ Epidemic Across Midwest

In misguided effort to help bees, government spawns farmland infestation crisis

In an attempt to produce more habitats for bees and wildlife, the federal government inadvertently planted “super weeds” across the Midwest, potentially threatening tens of thousands of acres of farmland.

The federal government, contracting the work through a private company, accidentally mixed in weed seeds with native grass and flower seeds, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Wednesday morning.

“It’s almost chainsaw material; it’s that strong.”

The seeds include Palmer amaranth, “one of the most prolific and devastating weeds in the country for corn, soybeans and other row crops,” the Star Tribune reported.

The weed has been spotted in at least 13 properties in two counties in Minnesota.

The Palmer super weed has never before been spotted in Minnesota.

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So why is that a big problem? Like invasive fish and reptile species in U.S. rivers and the Everglades, the weed is strong and has evolved to reproduce quickly. And like pythons finding a new home in the Everglades, the new habitats are somewhat similar to its old habitats.

The Palmer weed comes from the Southwest.

A single female Palmer amaranth plant produces more than 250,000 seeds, grows to a height of 6-8 feet and has a woody stem thick enough to damage combine cutter bars and other farm equipment that try to mow it down, the Star Tribune reported.

“It’s almost chainsaw material; it’s that strong,” said University of Minnesota Extension weed scientist Jeff Gunsolus.

It can take over whole farm fields in three years if left untreated, the paper reports.

The anticipated costs to farmers and taxpayers will be a double whammy. Crop losses will start to occur, of course — but farmers will also have to pay for aggressive herbicide programs.

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The Palmer weed issue is yet another case of the federal government rushing in with a solution that is worse than the original problem.

And in the case of bees, the much-feared “extinction” of bees was never going to happen.

Beginning some time last decade, many on the Left and in government feared honeybees were dying off, and, in fact, they were.

“Colony collapse disorder” was happening. But no one knew why. Was it the cellphones? The genetically modified crops? Pesticides and herbicides?

The Left usually blamed its favorite targets: Genetically modified foods and pesticides.

Bees dying is a problem. The bees pollinate food crops. They touch about a third of the food we eat. The estimate losses to U.S farmers would be between $5 billion and $15 billion.

But the “beecopalypse” never happened.

National Review reported in June 2015 that bee colonies were back to a 20-year high. Honey production hit a 10-year high.

The problem took care of itself and the bee-killing theories didn’t pan out. It was likely not true that mankind and his farming methods were killing the bees.

Yet today, the methods used by the federal government to create more “pollinator habitats” instead created a serious threat to Midwestern farmers. The Palmer super weed is doing damage to farms in Arkansas and Tennessee, and threatens valuable farmland in Illinois, Iowa, and more.

It isn’t the first time that federal do-gooders tried to “re-balance” nature, to the detriment of farmers and the land itself.

In 1995, the federal government began reintroducing wolves into various areas in the West, including Yellowstone National Park. Wolves died out in the park around 1926.

In 2003, the federal government boasted the damage to livestock in the West was “much less than expected”: only 256 sheep and 41 cattle.

Farmers were still angry. Costly attacks continued.

In 2011, farmer Dean B. Peterson of Montana told The New York Times that the decision to repopulate wolves, using wolves from Canada, was “shoved down our throat with a plunger.”

Peterson said he once lost 12 calves in wolf attacks, and the government responded by killing only one wolf. Wolf hunters charge farmers about $350 per hour for fuel, The Times reported.

The law of unintended consequences is the one law the federal government often imposes. But this time, the damage could be much bigger than 50 cattle in the Rocky Mountains.

If Midwest farmland is further affected by the Palmer super weed, consumers can expect skyrocketing costs for corn and other crops, and taxpayers can expect more government spending. But worst of all, the bread basket of the world has been threatened with serious damage — by its own government’s programs.

meet the author

Political reporter, LifeZette. Indiana University journalism grad. Boston U. business grad. Former Indiana, Alabama statehouse reporter, Daytona Beach editorial writer.

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