State Govt urged to fund locust control

Claire TyrrellCountryman

Farmers in the State's south are lobbying the State Government to foot the bill for locust control, after the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) signalled an increase in locust numbers this spring.

WAFarmers Corrigin-Lake Grace zone president Bob Iffla initiated a petition last week calling on the State Government to release funding for aerial spraying.

More than 100 growers have signed the petition, which is due to be lodged in parliament at the end of this month.

"People out here are very annoyed about Government not spraying for locusts at least at swarming stage," he said.

Mr Iffla said WA should have a system like the Australian Plague Locust Commission in the eastern states, which monitored and funded locust control.

The last time DAFWA sprayed for locusts was in 2006.

DAFWA invasive species director Viv Read said department assessments concluded that locust control this season should be funded by landholders.

"Landholders are responsible for spraying of locusts on their property and it is in their economic interest to do so," he said.

"In assessing potential hatchings this season, the department determined spraying programs by landholders are best to control locust populations."

DAFWA last month warned growers in Ravensthorpe, Jerramungup, Gnowangerup, Esperance, Kent, Broomehill-Tambellup, Lake Grace and Katanning shires that high levels of locust activity were expected this spring.

The department advised growers in those areas to monitor their properties and consider broad-scale aerial control programs.

Mr Read could not put a figure on the State Government spend on locust control, because that figure was still being ascertained.

He said locusts were more widespread in 2006 and put a greater dent in the State's crop.

"The 2006 hatchings were more widespread than what is anticipated this spring," he said.

"Following review of the 2006 incident, the department recognised the benefits of landholder control on individual properties as a part of normal farm management."

_Countryman _ understands the State Government has signalled the establishment of a committee to determine investments into locust control.

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