A Wagga psychology professor has backed a call for the NSW government to provide assistance to farmers hit by the mouse plague and pointed to data that showed parts of the Riverina were under mental strain from the infestation.
NSW Farmers and the Country Women's Association launched a joint campaign on Tuesday to call for the state government to provide up to $25,000 per farm to cover the cost of poison mouse bait.
NSW Farmers grains committee chairman Matthew Madden said the "ceaseless" plague was "rapidly spreading and growing" southwards from the Northern and Central West regions, with some farmers spending up to $150,000 on baiting and 80 per cent suffering damages of at least $20,000 to their property.
Associate professor of psychology at Charles Sturt University in Wagga, Gene Hodgins, said anything that could reduce some of the stress being put on farmers would be a good thing.
"On the mental health side, anything that can lessen the financial stress on farmers is helpful," he said.
"One of the things about the mouse plague is that farmers can feel like they don't have much control over the situation as the mice are just relentless and they are coming from everywhere.
"When you are struggling to pay for the bait or can't find any at all, that's extra stress on top. Any assistance would be useful but I'd suggest there should also be good emotional health services available for farmers as well."
In other news
NSW Farmers Wagga branch chairman Alan Brown said Riverina crop growers were facing a "disaster" and needed help to "mitigate the damage" as they tried to hold out until a major weather event or rodent disease slowed down the mice.
Mr Brown said sorghum crops up north and cornfields at Griffith were being wiped out by mice, despite multiple rounds of baiting.
The groups' presentation to Parliament on Tuesday included testimony from Barmedman farmer Lisa Minogue, who said the smell from the mice was "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," she said.
Professor Hodgins said the plague was made worse by the fact that it was affecting people's households as well as their businesses.
"It's the situation of not being able to escape. We know that stress is worse when people don't have that respite," he said.
CWA chief executive Danica Leys said it was "staggering" that 97 per cent of surveyed farmers said the plague was affecting their stress levels and there were reports of people having trouble sleeping.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: