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HEIGHTENED mouse activity in recent years has resulted in growers needing to increase their use of crop protection products to help control mice numbers and prevent serious economic losses.

During the height of the 2021 mouse plague, an industry permit was issued to Grain Producers Australia (GPA) by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) - (PER90799) - allowing growers access to ZP50 mouse bait.

This new mouse control option resulted from research collaboration between the CSIRO, Australia's national science agency, funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

Growers and GPA also provided practical input into these scientific processes through the National Mouse Management Group.

Several farm chemical manufacturing companies were included on the GPA permit, enabling a range of ZP50 products to be legally manufactured and sold - benefitting growers throughout Australia.

Expert analysis by GPA suggests the potential economic impact of these improved mouse controls provided by these ZP50 products, via the GPA permit, was valued at about $1 billion.

This was based on calculations for known potential product application on wheat crops only, up to May 2022.

With this permit set to expire in October 2022, GPA applied for an extension to ensure growers can continue accessing this important mouse control option in their businesses.

As part of the permit extension approvals processes, the APVMA requested new training and reporting requirements be put in place in order to provide them with evidence of users complying with the permit conditions.

In response to the APVMA's requests, GPA has now implemented these processes for growers and users to access - via the online GPA training platform - allowing a one-year extension of the permit.

From January 1, 2023, growers and applicators will need to complete the new stewardship training course and meet these reporting requirements in order to purchase the various ZP50 products.

These services are being provided free of charge, with costs absorbed by GPA as part of its continued commitment to supporting stewardship training and best-practice application of pesticides.

This also forms part of GPA's leadership and strategic aims, working with other industry stakeholders to support initiatives and innovations that help boost grower productivity and sustainability.

Most importantly, these processes respond to the APVMA's concerns about user compliance with conditions on the current permit (PER90799) that's been in place since May 2021.

These concerns centre around monitoring both mouse numbers and non-target safety, as well as timing of application for ZP50 products.

This new training and reporting will now provide the APVMA with evidence of user knowledge and compliance as part of approving the one-year permit extension.

These programs were purposefully designed in collaboration with key stakeholders and experts to ensure they are not onerous for growers and applicators.

The online training is a combination of videos, text and links to access further reading material.

It also includes short quizzes to test user understanding of the course content.

A certificate will be provided after the training course is completed, which can be used to allow the purchase of products supplied under APVMA Permit (PER90799).

A PDF digital certificate can be downloaded and saved onto a smartphone, or a printed copy can be produced.

These new processes will not only help satisfy the APVMA's concerns, they'll also help to improve grower and user practices on the ground, to support productivity and sustainability outcomes.

As we've seen recently with major spray drift issues causing serious damage to cotton crops on the Darling Downs in Queensland, we all need to continually lift our standards and improve outcomes to maintain community trust and safeguard access to these vitally important crop protection tools.


This article was published in the Farm Weekly on 14 January 2023 HERE and Stock & Land, on 17 January 2023. HERE


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