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Big Banks step in to help farmers tackle mouse plague crisis

·3-min read
Silhouette of mice in captivity and a small brown mouse eating grains
Silhouette of mice in captivity and a small brown mouse eating grains

NAB is the latest major bank to offer support measures to customers who have been impacted by a plague of mice that’s running rampant through NSW.

Julie Rynski, NAB executive of regional and argribusiness said the relief measures would help impacted customers manage the financial impacts of the plague.

“This mice plague is devastating farmers, particularly their ability to protect their business against potential future droughts in storing feed and grains,” Rynski said.

To help, NAB customers who are affected will have access to relief measures including:

  • Waiving the application fee for restructuring business facilities;

  • Deferral of principal payments on business loan and/or leasing payments;

  • Waiving costs and charges for withdrawing term deposits early (including Farm Management Deposits);

  • Credit card and personal loan relief;

  • Offering reduction on home loan and personal loan repayments or moratoriums;

  • MyCoach wellbeing support for colleagues and customers.

Rynski said it is important not to underestimate the impact that this can have on the mental health of the community.

“We can’t underestimate how this affects every part of our farmers’ lives and those around them,” Rynski said.

“Many rural communities don’t have easy access to psychological support, but there are services out there that can assist farmers. It’s important that they can access the help that’s right for them, regardless of where they live or their life circumstances.”

Customers who need help are encouraged to visit their nearest NAB branch, contact their banker directly or call NAB Assist on 1800 701 599.

ANZ also offers support

The move follows ANZ encouraging customers affected to contact their dedicated agribusiness banker to discuss their needs and to the financial support measures available to them.

This plague is proving very costly and disruptive. Many regional customers were still finding their feet after the drought and now as they recover, they have another problem to deal with,” ANZ’s head of Agribusiness Mark Bennett said.

“Mice have destroyed stored hay and grain and continue to raid freshly sown crops, meaning many farmers have lost valuable inventory and have been forced to re-sow. We want to support our impacted customers and we hope the measures can help them navigate these issues with improved confidence.”

NSW govt also steps in

In May the NSW government pledged $50 million in funding to tackle the plague, which includes free mouse bait to help farmers kill the mice.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall said free baiting, through free-of-charge grain treatment, would be made available to farmers, while affected rural and town households and small businesses would be able to apply for rebates to help them meet the cost of purchasing mouse baits.

What is the mouse plague?

Millions of mice have been spreading around regional NSW, eating grain supplies and devastating farmers.

And now, mice levels have reached a peak with the CSIRO’s Mouse Monitoring Project report telling farmers they must remain vigilant as the mice turn to houses and barns to find warmth in the winter months.

“Mice will reach a peak in late autumn 2021 coincident with sowing of winter crops. Mice will appear in houses and sheds as temperatures drop,” the report said.

“Growers should remain vigilant and act accordingly if mouse abundance is of concern.”

The mice feed on grain farmers either grow or keep stored so there is excess food for cattle in times of need like drought.

The mice have caused individual farmers to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars due to lost supply. On top of that the mice are destroying costly machinery by chewing through wires.

Farmers are also cautious about infection and disease carried by the mice to ensure their cattle stay safe.

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