NSW mice plague reaches empty Parliament House

Thursday, 13 May, 2021

NSW mice plague reaches empty Parliament House

A mice plague of epic proportions is sweeping through the farmlands of NSW, creating a worsening economic and public health situation across the state.

“The smell is horrific. You can pick up all the mice you see but there is always more. I did 38 loads of washing in three days. My house is pretty much packed up in boxes,” said farmer Lisa Minogue who lives in the town of Barmedman.

Industry bodies NSW Farmers and the Country Woman’s Association of NSW (CWA) joined forces in response to the crisis calling for the state government to implement a mouse plague financial support package, providing up to $25,000 per farm business to assist with baiting costs.

“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,” said NSW Farmers Grains Committee Chair Matthew Madden.

The two organisations held a parliamentary briefing to outline the significant financial and health impacts of the relentless mouse plague spreading across the state.

However, no member of parliament attended.

“(We) did not receive a request to change the time of the briefing so more parliamentarians could attend,” the NSW Farmers organisation said in a statement responding to the suggestion that the briefing was politically motivated.

“Suggestions that this was politically motivated are offensive to the families, businesses and communities who are enduring immense stress and hardship in the face of unprecedented mouse numbers. Our members travelled a long way to share their stories of the appalling impact the plague is having on their farms, in their homes and to their livelihood.”

Madden said loss of stored grain and fodder is having the greatest financial impact, with a third of respondents to a NSW Farmer survey reporting estimated losses between $50,000 and $150,000.

“The survey results also showed that the costs of baiting so far for some exceeds $150,000, with 30% having spent between $20,000 and $150,000 already.

“More than 80% of respondents also reported damage to agricultural machinery and infrastructure, with around a third saying the damage bill was between $20,000 and $150,000.”

Availability of mouse bait is also an escalating issue, with 75% of farmers reporting an inability to access bait when needed.

“The government can have a role to play in supporting the establishment of and streamlining approvals for regional grain treatment stations, allowing farmers to treat their own grain, reducing the cost and biosecurity risks associated with baiting.”

CWA CEO Danica Leys said the social and mental health impacts on farmers, their families and rural communities are also rising sharply.

“A staggering 97% of the survey respondents felt the influx of mice is affecting their stress levels making farm business decisions,” Leys said.

“People are having issues with sleeping, which we all know as a significant impact on mental and physical health.

“There are plenty of reports of people being bitten and mice also make their way into rainwater tanks causing contamination of domestic water storages with different bacteria such as Salmonella.

“And it’s not just farm businesses. Regional hotels, retail and food businesses, bakeries, supermarkets, childcare centres and aged-care homes have also felt the impact of this mouse plague.

“All of these financial and health impacts follow unprecedented drought, catastrophic bushfires and most recently floods across large regions. It is time for the state government to act.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Helen Hotson

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