NSW Gov announce mouse plague relief package

By: Anthony Wingard

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A $50 million package from the NSW Government has been announced to control the ongoing mouse plague harassing farmers in regional New South Wales

The mouse plague in New South Wales has already caused around $100 million in damages

Measures to control the ongoing mouse plague harassing farmers in regional New South Wales have been announced by the NSW Government, with a $50 million package set to be rolled in the affected areas.

The package includes free baiting through grain treatment for primary producers in regional and rural NSW and rebates of up to $1000 for eligible households and small businesses.

Urgent approval for the use of bromadiolone – a potent rodenticide capable of fatally nullifying rodents within 24 hours – has also been sought by the NSW Government from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

NSW Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall says the free baiting would be beneficial to farmers who are tackling the financial implications of the plague.

 "Today’s announcement of free baits to treat grain almost completely removes the cost burden on our farmers and croppers and complements our popular workshops to arm farmers with the tools needed to build a mice-free fortress to protect their paddocks," Marshall says.

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro hopes the assistance measures will help farmers protect their crops.

 "We know the financial pressure this mice plague is putting on farmers and household budgets, we have heard the concerns of regional NSW and we are acting on it," Barilaro says. 

"I’ve seen first-hand the impact these rodents are having. They are a scourge on our agricultural production so we are giving landholders a fearsome suite of tools to manage mice.

"Free bait is better than any rebate for our farmers, who we continue to stand behind post-drought, bushfires and floods." 

Households in affected areas will be eligible for a $500 rebate while small businesses will be eligible for rebates of $1000.

Workshops to educate farmers on the best eradication strategies for mice have also been expanded while a moonshot research project has also been kick-started to identify and develop a new mice-killing agent.

The mice plague has wreaked havoc across farms and properties for the last six months, affecting vast areas of rural New South Wales and southern Queensland. In all, it is expected that the mice have already caused up to $100 million in damage including some farmers, who have had to forfeit hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of crops as a result.

NSW Health has also seen a spike in the number of case of mouse-borne diseases such as leptospirosis from the plague, with 39 cases already recorded.

NSW Farmers president James Jackson says while the announcement will be welcomed by many farmers in the region, not least in the government’s recognition of the enormity of the plague and the economic ramifications it has already inflicted on the state’s farming community.

"Some farmers have outlaid up to $150 000 on baiting already, and we’ve seen lost grain fodder and damage to farm machinery, not to mention the stress that has accumulated on top of bushfires, drought and COVID-19," Jackson says.

"Today’s announcement has been acknowledgement from the government that this is a crisis. 

"Rural residents have been forced to endure the impacts of this plague, and our recent survey on the matter shows the immense toll it has had on people’s health and wellbeing. Communities are at their wit's end.

"We look forward to discussing these measures with Minister Marshall to find out where the bait stations will be located and opportunities to retrospectively reimburse farmers who have spent tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in baits.

"A smooth and timely rollout is essential, especially when winter crop planting is underway."

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