Australian State Farmers To Get $38m For Mouse Plague
SYDNEY — Australian state of New South Wales’ farmers could have access to the most potent poison in the world as part of an AU$ 50 million ($38.56 million) relief package to deal with a mouse plague that’s been destroying crops and wreaking havoc since last year.
The New South Wales Farmers Federation had been agitating for government help for months. Some farmers have already spent more than AU$ 150,000 ($115,686) on baiting, while others have lost more than AU$ 250,000 ($192,810) worth of grain and fodder.
New South Wales Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall announced the package on May 13, saying farmers would soon be able to have their grain chemically treated for free to protect crops.
Affected rural households will also be able to apply for rebates of up to AU$ 500 ($385.62), and small businesses will be eligible to claim up to AU$ 1,000 ($771.24) through Service New South Wales.
“Beyond the paddock, we’re going to provide rebates for small businesses and households whether they’re on farms or in rural towns to help them with the cost of all the baits that they’re buying and traps to try and get on top of this scourge,” he said on May 13.
The government will also source poison to be provided to farmers at facilities in the hardest-hit areas.
The New South Wales government seeks urgent approval from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to use bromadiolone — a new poison outlawed in Australia.
“It’s actually the strongest mouse poison we can get anywhere on the face of the earth,” Marshall said.
“It will actually kill these things within 24 hours, not the (usual) three-day strike down period.”
Research within the agriculture department will also be ramped up for a long-term solution to mice plagues.
“We’re looking for the myxomatosis equivalent for mice so that we can have a biological control rather than simply trying to poison these things into oblivion,” he said.
Myxomatosis was introduced in Australia in the 1950s to keep rabbit numbers down.
“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,” said Deputy Premier John Barilaro in a statement.
“The New South Wales Government will establish grain treatment facilities at specified locations across rural and regional New South Wales for farmers to have their grain treated free of charge, and we will provide rebates to small businesses and households through Service New South Wales to help meet the cost of buying bait.
“I am also forming an advisory committee to ensure everyone has access to expert advice, including the latest hot spots, health, and food safety advice, information for vets, and guidance for keeping children and animals safe.”
(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Ojaswin Kathuria. Map by Urvashi Makwana.)