More than 13,000 NSW households and small businesses have together claimed more than $7.5 million of rebates for their spending on retail mouse baits during this year's devastating mouse plague, the NSW government reports.
A total of 304 primary producers have accessed more than $2 million worth of assistance to recoup some of the cost of rodenticide zinc phosphide.
Agriculture minister Adam Marshall revealed the take-up of mouse plague recovery funds on Tuesday as he urged farmers and graziers to immediately start preparing for a spring surge in mouse numbers after increased activity was reported in the state's north.
CSIRO mouse expert Steve Henry and NSW Farmers have also put primary producers on alert in the past week.
The Orana region was thumped by the plague that emerged at last year's bumper grain harvest.
"While there has been some respite from high mouse numbers across the winter months as breeding slowed, we remain concerned about a spring surge in numbers as the weather warms up," Mr Marshall said.
"It looks like we're going to have good conditions and hopefully a great winter crop, but that also means mice will have everything they need to build populations very quickly in the lead-up to harvest.
It looks like we're going to have good conditions and hopefully a great winter crop, but that also means mice will have everything they need to build populations very quickly in the lead-up to harvest.NSW agriculture minister Adam Marshall
"Early detection is critical to helping protect crops, so farmers should be walking their paddocks now looking for signs of mice and being prepared to bait if needed."
He said baiting early was key to controlling mouse populations before they started breeding in spring, because they would more readily take the bait while there were fewer alternative food sources available.
"Zinc phosphide is the most effective rodenticide available and the NSW government is offering producers a rebate, which will cover 50 per cent of the cost of zinc phosphide baits, up to $10,000," he said.
"The NSW government is also working with manufacturers to make sure we have an ample supply of zinc phosphide available - we've provided more than $5 million to make sure NSW producers are first in line for zinc phosphide and to assist with the costs of getting the chemical to NSW."
NSW Farmers vice president Xavier Martin of the Liverpool Plains on Monday said mouse activity was already on the increase in some areas, according to the latest update from the CSIRO and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).
"The August update states that mouse numbers are moderate to high in parts of the Central West and highly variable in northern NSW, with serious concerns about the impact on chickpea crops," Mr Martin said.
"I am starting to see increased activity on my own farm, and I am hearing the same from a lot of members."
The peak body encouraged farmers to apply for the zinc phosphide bait rebate through the Rural Assistance Authority website.
"NSW Farmers [has] advocated tirelessly for this financial support since February and along with the CWA of NSW, pursued a shared responsibility in combatting this plague, resulting in $150 million worth of mouse plague support packages announced by the NSW government," Mr Martin said.
In June the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) rejected the NSW government's application to allow the use of poison bromadiolone around crops.
Mr Martin said the peak body continued to call for the reallocation of funds not used for the defunct bromadiolone scheme to be put into the mouse bait rebate program.
"The mouse plague of 2021 is clearly not over and farmers will need all the support they can get," he said.
Applications are open until December 17 and a claim can be made retrospectively for zinc phosphide bait costs incurred back to January 2021.
The rebate for retail mouse bait costs also remains available.
Households are eligible to claim up to $500 and small businesses, including primary producers and sole traders, will be eligible to claim up to $1000 for rebates on baits, traps or cleaning materials on or after February 1.
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