AS the NSW mouse plague continues to cause havoc for farmers, small business and households across the state, including in Scone and Merriwa, new concerns have emerged over the state government's recently announced Mouse Bait Rebate Program.
Part of a $50 million support package, the program offers eligible households rebates of $500 and small businesses $1000, for the purchase of baits.
However, the NSW government has confirmed the rebate program won't open until July and will only apply to products purchased on or after May 13, 2021.
NSW Labor has since called the government to fulfill its 'broken promise' to immediately support people impacted by the plague.
Shadow Minister for Primary Industries Jenny Aitchison said "people have been living with this nightmare for months, it didn't start in May".
"Many rural and regional retailers have been selling out of traps and baits, so many households and businesses will have already spent hundreds of dollars on fighting the plague," Ms Aitchison said.
"There is nothing in this package for them."
However Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said during a 2GB interview on May,19 2021 that if the government needs to do more, it will.
"This is a very practical package but I've said when I announced it last week, this is only a down payment, this isn't the full extent of what we will do as a government. We'll continue to evaluate the programs," he said.
The Minister also announced that Scone and Merriwa will be home to two of the 20 sites across the state where farmers affected by the mice plague can access free grain treatment.
However its rollout is dependent on the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) approval for the use of bromadiolone, a potent rodent killer which will be used in combination with zinc phosphide to defend farmer's crops.
The approval time-frame also has farmers concerned, who argue it could be too little too late.
Lobby group, NSW Farmers, has estimated the cost of the mouse plague will exceed a billion dollars as farmers continue to abandon paddocks and hold off winter crop sowing, which will see a flow on effect to the NSW economy.
Five hundred million dollars has already been lost at the farm gate, according to a preliminary estimate.
The government funded Mouse Alert website indicates reported sightings have doubled since March 31, 2021, with a growing number of mice being sighted in and around Sydney.
NSW Farmers Vice President Xavier Martin said "the window to act and control this plague is now".