NSW farmers at their "wits' end" could soon have access to the strongest mouse poison in the world as part of a $50 million relief package to deal with a biblical plague.
Mice have been running rampant through large tracts of inland NSW and parts of southern Queensland, destroying crops and causing significant damage to tonnes of stored hay and grain since last year.
The peak body representing the state's farmers has been agitating for government help for months, to no avail.
But on Thursday NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall announced affected rural households would be eligible for rebates of up to $500, and small businesses will be able to claim up to $1000.
Even better, he said, farmers will also soon be able to have their grain chemically treated for free to protect against the vermin.
That will almost completely remove the cost burden on farmers, Mr Marshall said in a statement.
"We're making this as easy for farmers as we possibly can."
"No tedious rebate forms to fill out, just bring your grain to have the experts treat it free of charge."
The NSW government is also seeking urgent approval from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for approval to use bromadiolone - a new poison outlawed in Australia.
"It's actually the strongest mouse poison we can get anywhere on the face of the earth," Mr Marshall told 2GB radio.
"It will actually kill these things within 24 hours not the (usual) three-day strike down period."
NSW Farmers say they're relieved the government has finally recognised the plague is a crisis.
"Communities are at their wits' end," President James Jackson said, with the huge financial losses and stress caused building on the impacts of drought, bushfires and the pandemic.
Mr Jackson said the announcement of the package is only a first step - farmers need more.
The rollout of the financial aid and toxic bait must be smooth and timely, he said, and the government must also consider reimbursing some farmers who have already drained their coffers to buy bait.
NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay said the government could have saved itself money and farmers months of torment if they had opened their wallets sooner.
"Until today, Adam Marshall and (Nationals leader) John Barilaro have flatly refused to put any significant money to helping toward helping these communities," she told reporters on Thursday.
"Quite simply, it is too little too late."
"These communities needed this support at the beginning of the year, when this mouse plate could have been controlled."
Labor is also calling for the government to reimburse farmers for some or all of their baiting costs.
As part of the package, the NSW government will also fund research within the agriculture department to investigate long-term solutions to mice plagues.
"We're looking for the myxomatosis equivalent for mice so that we can actually have a biological control rather than simply trying to poison these things into oblivion," he said.
Myxomatosis is a virus introduced in Australia in the 1950s to keep rabbit numbers down.
Australian Associated Press