Searching for a locust hero near you

Posted by Josette Dunn on 22nd September 2010

The Victorian Government is calling on the community to nominate people who are role models in their community in preparing for the spring locust plague.Visiting the first regional Incident Control Centre in Mildura today with Agriculture Minister Joe Helper, Mr Brumby announced the creation of a new Victorian Government campaign to recognise Victorians who set an example for their communities in preparing for the locust threat.

The campaign, Locust Heroes, will seek to recognise individuals and groups who set an example in their commitment to doing their bit to help protect Victoria from the forecast locust plague.

“Together with Victorians, our Government is rising to the challenge of a forecast locust plague which could cost our State’s agriculture sector $2 billion if left untreated,” Mr Brumby said.

“We are delivering a $43.5 million strategy to support farmers, businesses, local councils and communities to prepare for the locust plague with early hatchings already confirmed.

“The key to tackling the threat is working in partnerships with communities and we want to recognise some of the many Victorians who are doing their bit to combat the locust threat.

“This means monitoring their property for egg beds and locust hoppers, reporting activity to Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and having chemicals and equipment ready to spray.

“It also means being aware of neighbours and their individual needs – particularly if they’re organic farmers or beekeepers.”

Mr Helper said DPI staff at the Incident Control Centre were acting on hatching reports and working with local farmers and other landholders to appropriately treat any outbreaks, with more than 70 reported hatchings in the State’s north-west so far.

“It’s vital farmers and other landholders are ready to spray – with the best time when locusts are still in the hopper stage about two weeks after hatching and before they can fly,” Mr Helper said.

“The Locust Heroes campaign is about recognising the good work that Victorians are doing in helping prepare their properties and communities and setting a strong example.”

The DPI’s Locust Reporting Hotline – 1300 135 559 – has expanded its opening hours to seven days a week. People can nominate their Locust Heroes by calling the Locust Reporting Hotline on 1300 135 559 or by visiting www.dpi.vic.gov.au/locusts.

The Victorian Government is investing $43.5 million to fight the locust plague including:
• Ordering $4.2 million worth of chemicals to treat 600,000 hectares of public land;
• Providing a 100 per cent rebate for the costs of chemicals for farmers to spray locusts;
• Delivering a $850,000 package to local councils to assist them fight the locust threat;
• Ensuring we have on stand by both fixed-wing planes and helicopters to undertake surveillance and aerial spray where possible; and
• Launching a $2 million community awareness campaign to ensure all Victorians were aware of the locust threat and landholders know what to do to help fight the locust threat.