Farmers struck by a relentless mouse plague will be given a $50million support package after a sudden backflip by the New South Wales government, after previously insisting they had no money for it.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro announced Thursday morning the government would offer financial aid to farmers after masses of rodents have left months worth of crops completely destroyed.
The government will offer free baits to farmers using banned poison Bromadiolone, which has now been made legal for use, which NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall described as ‘napalm for mice’.
It comes after Mr Marshall told the ABC on Wednesday he didn’t have the aid money ‘on my fingertips’.
Tracey Jones, who lives in Dubbo, shared an alarming video of mice falling out of her auger when her son went to the clean the machinery
The move is a stark contrast to Mr Marshall’s comments on Wednesday, where he said the burden of drought relief had handcuffed the government
The government announced they would offer free grain treatment for major producers and rebates for treatment and baits for all farmers.
The move is a stark contrast to Mr Marshall’s comments on Wednesday, where he said the burden of drought relief had handcuffed the government.
‘The proposal that I’ve read in media reports would cost anywhere between $600-700million. After spending nearly $4.5billion in drought support, I don’t have that money on my fingertips,’ he told the ABC.
Mr Barilaro changed tact Thursday, saying they had listened to the cries for help and had found $50million in funding to assist.
‘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,’ Mr Barilaro said.
They will offer $1,000 rebates for small businesses, $500 rebates for households and free mice bait for all farmers.
Farms across New South Wales have been overrun with plagues of mice in recent months (pictured property in Gilgandra)
Farmers have collected scores of rodents across Australia (pictured above) who have been causing havoc with stock
Mr Barilaro changed tact Thursday, saying they had listened to the cries for help and had found $50million in funding to assist
‘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,’ Mr Marshall said.
‘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.
‘We’re making this as easy for farmers as we possibly can. No tedious rebate forms to fill out, just bring your grain to have the experts treat it free of charge.
‘Free bait is better than any rebate for our farmers, who we continue to stand behind post drought, bushfires and floods.’
Some farmers have estimated losses of between $50,000 and $150,000 due to grain and fodder being destroyed, NSW Farmers Grains Committee Chair Matthew Madden said.
‘Farmers and rural communities are still in the midst of combatting a ceaseless mouse plague that is continuing to impact the northern and central west regions and rapidly spreading and growing through the south,’ he said.
A survey on farmers around the state found that more than 80 per cent had suffered significant damage to machinery and infrastructure from mice.
It was also found that 75 per cent of farmers couldn’t access bait when they needed it most.
In early February, Ben Storer filmed the mice as he drove through the horde in a ute on his family farm in Warren in central northern NSW (pictured)
NSW Farmers and the Country Women’s Association met at State Parliament on Tuesday to detail just how much their lives have been put on hold to cope with the endless stream of mice.
They asked for $25,000 per farm to help buy and set up mouse baits to kill the rodents and save their crops and homes.
Lisa Minogue, a farmer from Barmedman, in central NSW said the mice kept coming and couldn’t be stopped, and the smell they left behind was ‘horrific’.
‘You can pick up all the mice you see but there is always more,’ she said.
‘I did 38 loads of washing in three days. My house is pretty much packed up in boxes.’
Dead mice are seen at a property in Coonamble in central west NSW, Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Dubbo farmer Tracey Jones shared an alarming video of mice falling out of her auger when her son went to the clean the machinery.
‘When you clean out the auger and it rains mice!’ she captioned the video as countless rodents flew out of the pipe to land on the dirt.
Ms Jones said the mouse plagues were devastating for her family that relies on grain farming for its livelihood.
‘People out here are struggling badly with them in our houses,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘My 90-year-old mother in law is living out of an esky because it’s the only way she can mouse-proof her food.
‘Mice are in everything, rooves and walls eating wiring, cupboards and pantries eating, nesting in and soiling in food and clothing, in cars and machinery chewing through wiring.
‘The smell of dead mice is overwhelming, it’s everywhere.’
Mr Marshall said he found it odd the farmers met at a time when government ministers were unable to attend but said there were several workshops being set up to help those combat the mice.
‘No amount of money could ever wipe out the mice impacting farmers in parts of the State,’ he said.
‘The most effective way to manage mouse populations is to reduce the availability of food and shelter in combination with pesticide bait control.
‘The feedback I have heard from farmers on the ground is the need for increased tools to combat these pesky rodents.
‘That is why we have secured the experience of Australia’s leading expert to provide tailored on-farm advice alongside a series of workshops to ensure people are equipped with the knowledge they need to effectively manage mice.’
‘The NSW Government has also successfully lobbied the Commonwealth’s APVMA to allow off-label use of zinc phosphide and worked to ensure there is no shortage of baits.’