NSW Farmers estimates the current mouse plague will chew more than $1 billion dollars off the farm-gate value of the New South Wales winter crop as its impact extends across the state.
The government-funded Mouse Alert website indicates reported sightings have doubled since March 31, with a growing number of mice being sighted in and around Sydney.
NSW Farmers vice president Xavier Martin said the window to act and control the plague was now.
“Farmers are abandoning some paddocks and cannot hold off winter-crop sowing a moment longer, and researchers warn that without a concerted baiting effort in the next few weeks, this could easily turn into a two-year plague event,” Mr Martin said.
“After more than eight months of battling growing mouse numbers, farmers are still waiting for State Government assistance to hit the ground and offer some practical support to our farming community.
“The State Government’s assistance package is impractical, dysfunctional and weeks away, which is not helping farmers who need support right now to drive mouse numbers down and break this horrible unrelenting cycle.
“NSW Farmers has consistently said the simplest, safest and most timely way for the State Government to assist farmers would be through providing rebates of up to $25,000 per farm business to cover 50 per cent of the cost of zinc phosphide bait.”
Mr Martin said NSW Farmers initially welcomed the state government’s $50 million assistance package, but it had become apparent that elements of the plan including the provision of “free baits for farmers” were still dependent on Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority approval which might be weeks away.
“’This mouse plague will be a significant financial hit to the NSW economy, as it is not just about the grain crop, and food production, but also all the regional businesses, traders and employees that rely on the farming sector.
“The NSW grains industry alone employs more than 10,000 people in regional areas.
“Each day we delay in taking effective action to control these mice will increase economic losses and the likelihood we will still be battling mice come Christmas time.”
Source: NSW Farmers