Farmers have called for action from the New South Wales government to tackle the endless plague of mice, saying this has resulted in some losing their entire summer crops, pushing people « to their limits ».
But Agriculture Secretary Adam Marshall did not show up Tuesday for a briefing at the Sydney Parliament Building arranged by agriculture and rural lawyers, and neither did another MP.
« We do not represent a noisy minority, we represent the vast majority of the people in this state in rural, regional and remote areas.
« So it’s disappointing when we don’t see members of the government who actually live in these areas come up and actually listen. »
A spokesman for Mr Marshall said the briefing on the mouse plague clashed with a joint session in the party room, held regularly on Tuesday mornings during the parliamentary session, which all government officials are required to attend.
However, the minister met with NSW Farmers, a co-organizer of the briefing, last week, the spokesman said.
The Agriculture Delegation has requested a financial aid package that will allow up to $ 25,000 per farm to pay for bait.
Mouse plague has become the latest problem for farmers after a welcome end to a multi-year drought.
In fact, the same summer rains that came as a blessing to the farmers helped the mice thrive too. Abundant forage and flowering fields meant the mice had plenty to eat and were able to increase their numbers.
It is an ironic fact that shows that the regions have simply not been able to take a break in recent years.
« The fear and stress really pushes people to their limits – they think they’ve done everything possible, they’ve eased the drought, their business survived, » said farmer Matthew Madden.
« Now they are wondering if we can put more money into a crop that can be eaten before we even start. »
« You have the farmers and their families dealing with mice running over your hair, over your children – it really has to be seen to be believed. »
Farmers NSW said some farms had lost their entire summer crop to the vermin, and the winter crop was also affected.
The mice also spread disease, and the organization said the Western NSW Local Health District had reported increasing cases of leptospirosis in mice, which can be harmful to the liver and kidneys, and in some cases even fatal.
Preliminary results of a survey of around 1,100 rural residents showed that almost all of them were forced to bait mice.
Almost a third of respondents had spent between $ 20,000 and $ 150,000 on bait, while some had spent more than that.
Farmers NSW also said that some pest control companies had raised prices due to high demand, and three-quarters of respondents said they were having trouble accessing enough bait.
The infestation also has implications for mental health. Almost all of the respondents said they experienced financial distress as a result of the problem, and 85 percent said they had difficulty sleeping.
An expert from CSIRO previously explained the extreme rate at which the mice can reproduce.
« Mice start breeding when they’re six weeks old and have a litter every 19 to 20 days thereafter. You can have up to 10 pups per litter, which means the rate of increase is really dramatic, » said CSIRO research director Steve Henry.
« As soon as they have a litter of puppies, they get pregnant again. They carry the next litter while they feed the previous one. »
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