Graziers in western Queensland say the approval of insecticides has come too late to stop grasshoppers ravaging the region’s paddocks.
- The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority has approved the emergency use of two chemicals to control grasshoppers
- The insects have ravaged western Queensland paddocks for the third year in a row
- One grazier says it cost him $70,000 to spray part of his property
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) this week permitted the emergency use of the chemicals fenitrothion and fipronil “for control of grasshoppers in pasture”.
Large numbers of grasshoppers have decimated properties across western and north west Queensland this summer, for the third year in a row.
It is a further blow to graziers who finally received good rain after eight years of drought and were starting to see green shoots sprouting on their properties.
Graziers ‘on their knees’
Cameron Tindall from Darr River Downs north of Longreach said a chemical should have been approved two months ago.
“They needed to be here when the grasshoppers were all little baby fellas,” Mr Tindall said.
“It’s too late. The grasshoppers have already eaten what we were going to get.
“[Across] a lot of this country, people are on their knees because of drought.”
Spraying costs tens of thousands of dollars
Ben Hall from Bibil station, north of Muttaburra, couldn’t wait for the approval and took matters into his own hands.
Last month, Mr Hall sprayed his paddocks with a chemical containing the active agent fipronil, which has since been approved for grasshopper control by the APVMA.
“Within the hour, a lot of the grasshoppers had died,” Mr Hall said.
“Within, I reckon, three days, you’d be doing well to find one moving around.”
He said he had to be selective about which parts of his property to save due to costs.
Mr Hall hired a crop duster to spray 24,000 acres at a cost of $70,000, but he said the risk was worth it.
“If they ate all our grass out and we had to move 400 head of cattle on agistment somewhere, it doesn’t take long to go through 70 grand, and you’re gone for the year,” he said.
“I think it works out actually cheaper if you can save the grass.”
No financial help
Queensland’s Agriculture Minister Mark Furner stopped short of offering financial help to graziers who used approved chemicals to control grasshopper numbers.
“Grasshoppers are not a foreign invasive pest that swarms and travels quickly like plague locusts,” Mr Furner said in a statement.
“Management is a matter for local landholders.”
Mr Furner said the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) would continue to assess damage through its survey of producers, which was due to be completed in April.
“The Palaszczuk Government stands shoulder to shoulder with our farmers, and we always will,” he said.
Mr Tindall, however, said many graziers would not be able to fork out tens of thousands of dollars to spray their properties.
“Economically, we haven’t got the finances to do it, and also, it’s too late,” Mr Tindall said.
Earlier this month, State Opposition Leader David Crisafulli weighed into the issue, travelling to Longreach to call for governments to make chemicals more readily available to spray the insects.