Worsening NSW mouse plague now an ‘economic and public health crisis’

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NSW farmers are calling for a $25,000 rebate from the State Government for properties affected by the worsening mouse plague, which they say has escalated into an “economic and public health crisis”.Key points:The NSW Farmers lobby group and the Country Women’s Association call for more help as the mouse plague worsensSome farmers have spent up to $150,000 in baiting but say…

Worsening NSW mouse plague now an ‘economic and public health crisis’
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NSW farmers are calling for a $25,000 rebate from the State Government for properties affected by the worsening mouse plague, which they say has escalated into an “economic and public health crisis”.

Key points:

  • The NSW Farmers lobby group and the Country Women’s Association call for more help as the mouse plague worsens
  • Some farmers have spent up to $150,000 in baiting but say mice numbers are rising and they have “grave concerns” for winter crops 
  • Some farmers have reported 100 per cent losses of summer crops

NSW Farmers chief executive Pete Arkle said such a rebate should be available for every farm business affected by the plague to pay for 50 per cent of the cost of mouse baits.

“We call on [Agriculture] Minister Adam Marshall to get serious on this matter.

“We have grave concerns that we are heading into a mild and wet winter that will allow a resurgence of the plague during spring time.”

The Country Women’s Association has joined forces with the lobby group to call for assistance,  saying the mouse “crisis” is affecting the mental health of farmers as well as people living in towns who are battling the “rampant” pests.

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‘Public health crisis’

CWA NSW chiefv executive Danica Leys said the government must act.

“We would like to see some acknowledgement of what the issue is — which is a crisis.”

Rebecca Hind, a resident of Canowindra in the central west of the state, said the situation was “mentally draining”.

Ms Hind said she was losing sleep, household items and she had even lost a beloved pet because of the mice problem.

She said she was constantly leaving the shops “empty handed” when trying to find bait and traps to deal with the problem.

“We need help, our options of doing it ourselves are not working,” she said.

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Winter crops in doubt

While weather conditions across much of the state have been great for winter sowing, it has been a nervous wait to see if the freshly planted crops will survive the mouse plague in some areas.

Mouse bait manufacturers have recently been given permission to double the lethality of their products, but getting hold of bait has been a problem with the product in high demand.

NSW Farmers said growers faced a further cost of $17,000 per 1,000 acres to bait paddocks for winter cropping.

Moree farmer and chair of the NSW Farmers’ grains committee, Mathew Madden, said entire crops had already been lost. 

Mr Madden said mice were eating crops, stored grain and destroying machinery by chewing through wires.

“If this was a problem in Balmain, I’m sure it would have been fixed by now,” he said.

Dead mice in a bucket

Residents of regional New South Wales say the mouse plague is not getting any better.(

Supplied: Matilda Quera

)

Survey reveals true impact

A survey conducted by NSW Farmers about the impacts of the ongoing mouse plague received more than 1,000 responses in three days.

The survey found 40 per cent of respondents had reduced the amount of crops they had planted because of the mice. 

With more than two-thirds of those holding back on planting, doing so by 20 to 50 per cent.

Of the respondents, 94 per cent said they had already had to bait for mice — with 30 per cent spending between $20,000 to $150,000 on baiting. 

Three-quarters of the respondents said they were unable to access bait when they needed it.

Dead mice in a blue ice cream bucket

Poison bait and mouse traps are in short supply as rural residents battle the resurgent mice plague.(

Supplied: Matilda Quera

)

Minister ‘open to requests’

The state Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said there had been “considerable assistance” for farmers dealing with growing mice numbers, including organising workshops for farmers about how to manage mice and properly lay bait.

Mr Marshall said his government also requested permission for the double-strength mouse bait that had recently been approved.

He said he had yet to receive a request about the $25,000 rebate but said he would be happy to consider “any suggestions and any requests”.

“I’ve only read and heard about this request in the media,” Mr Marshall said.

“To say that this issue is being ignored is absolutely wrong and ridiculous.” 

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