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1993 mouse plague cost $64.5 million

The Federal Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, Bob Collins, today launched a report into the impact of the 1993 mouse plague in South Australia and Victoria.

The report, which was commissioned by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and carried out by the Bureau of Resources Sciences (BRS), shows for the first time the extent of damage caused.

"Estimates put the cost of the plague in Victoria and South Australia at $64.5 million," Senator Collins said.

"The report confirms that grain and cereal growers bore the greatest losses, with reduced crop yields and damage to equipment and sheds.

"Other industries affected including piggeries and poultry, horticultural producers, retail outlets and government instrumentalities.

"There was also the large social cost to people living in plague affected areas who endured months of the plague, in and around their homes and work places," Senator Collins said.

The report noted the positive and negative effects of the plague on the environment.

While barn owls and other birds of prey benefited from the abundance of mice for food, native vegetation was badly damaged.

Senator Collins said there are ways farmers can lessen the damage of future mice plagues.

"Farm management techniques such as reducing weeds, ensuring seed is sown to the optimal depth, controlling harvester settings to minimise grain spillage and general farm hygiene can all help reduce the damage.

"These techniques are currently being tested by farmers in the Victorian Mallee and Wimmera under a study funded by BRS."

Senator Collins said the report provides the basis for developing appropriate strategies to lessen mouse plague damage and to assess the needs for funking further research into mouse plague control.

Contact for further information:

Brian Johnstone 277 7520

Peter O'Brien 272 5745

NB: Copies of the Report can be obtained by phoning Simone Brant, GRDC, on (06) 272 4135.