Letter to the Editor - September 17: Bad berries spoil bush
REGARDING the letter (CCA, 13/9) purporting the importance of Coffs Harbour's blueberry industry. It asserted that many in the community are "labelling farmers as selfish and a detriment to society". This is incorrect. Most of us are well aware there are good blueberry farmers and bad blueberry farmers, just as there are good and bad people in any industry.
Coffs Harbour is not just a farming community. Farming has not been "the backbone of this area and economy since the beginning". Before there was farming here there was extensive logging of old-growth forests, yet a very large portion of our community would now object passionately to continued logging of the small amount of old-growth forest that remains.
Tourism is a major industry and employer. The white nets going up everywhere detract enormously from the tropical appeal of our region and are not going to benefit our tourism industry.
The developing blueberry industry has seen an increase in dams and water being lost from natural waterways. This must be detrimental to the waterways, especially when run-off and pesticide residues are taken into account. Where blueberries are cultivated close to the coast they may not only compromise our enjoyment of public land but have flow-on effects for both sporting and commercial fishermen.
A recent summit on blueberries attended by representatives of many local organisations and government departments found that due to the many environmental impacts, best-practice methods should be developed.
If these could be monitored and awarded, it would give us as individuals the ability to vote with our wallets and buy ethically, as we do when we buy free-range eggs. We could choose to buy only best-practice blueberries and support farmers that care about both the land and our community.