The central part of the Ragwort Control Act is the publication of a code of practice on how to prevent the spread of ragwort. The code was published in July 2004 and provides comprehensive guidance on how to develop a cost-effective and strategic approach to weed control. It includes advice on the identification of Common Ragwort, risk assessment and priorities for control, the suitability and efficacy of control methods, environmental considerations and health and safety issues. The code of practice aims to reduce the risk of ragwort poisoning in horses and other livestock. It has been made widely available to individual land managers and also land owning institutions, such as local authorities.
The code of practice provides a yardstick against which compliance with an enforcement notice served under the Weeds Act 1959 can be measured. Together with Defra's revised procedures for investigating complaints about injurious weeds, the code of practice has enable Defra to make better use of the statutory measures available under the Weeds Act. In 2005, 69 enforcement notices were issued. Prior to the introduction of the code and the revised procedures, enforcement notices were rarely issued, if ever.