War of words over western NSW mice plague

Tiffanie TurnbullAAP
A war of words has erupted between John Barilaro and the peak body representing NSW farmers.
Camera IconA war of words has erupted between John Barilaro and the peak body representing NSW farmers. Credit: AAP

A war of words has erupted between the NSW deputy premier and the peak body representing the state's farmers over a request for financial aid to end a mice plague.

The famously outspoken Nationals leader John Barilaro on Wednesday chided peak body NSW Farmers - which traditionally has a strong relationship with his party - claiming the chief executive had not spoken to him before turning to the media.

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.

A survey of 1100 farmers across NSW found some have already spent more than $150,000 on baiting to kill the animals, while others had lost more than $250,000 worth of grain and fodder.

Alongside counterparts from the Country Women's Association, representatives from NSW Farmers on Tuesday travelled to state parliament to lobby for a support package of up to $25,000 per farm to help with baiting costs.

The delegation had hoped to meet with the premier, Mr Barilaro or other coalition MPs to discuss their concerns.

However Gladys Berejiklian said all government members were tied up in a mandatory meeting at the time, and couldn't attend.

During question time in parliament on Wednesday, Mr Barilaro suggested the meeting was intentionally timed to create outrage.

"When it comes to NSW Farmers, they've had an open door to ministers of this government," he said.

"All they had to do was change that time slot... but they chose not to."

Mr Barilaro said chief executive Peter Arkle instead "jumped in front of the camera" to politicise the issue.

"Guess what - he's playing politics," he said.

"He's got my mobile number and he hasn't spoken to me about that issue."

But NSW Farmers says it never received a request to move the meeting.

"Suggestions that this was politically motivated are offensive to the families, businesses and communities who are enduring immense stress and hardship in the face of unprecedented mouse numbers," a statement from the group reads.

The group has since met with Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall, and says it will continue to push for a comprehensive response to the "complex and stressful human and economic challenge" facing communities overrun by mice.

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