Berry industry should ‘weed out’ rogue farmers
THE Coffs Coast Advocate was recently criticised for its reporting on the working conditions of berry pickers.
Chair of Berries Australia criticised editor Janine Watson for a 'relentlessly negative narrative about local farmers and in particular the $350 million local berry industry.'
The Australian Workers' Union says many farms on the mid north coast use "dodgy labour hire companies" to employ workers to pick their produce, who then charge excessive accommodation and transport costs which once they take out of their weekly wage, leaves workers with little if anything to live on.
This letter writer says the issue is topical and that Berries Australia should weed out rogue farmers:
I was appalled to read the recent letter by Peter McPherson, Chair of Berries Australia, in which he criticised Advocate editor Janine Watson for publishing a story on working conditions in the berry industry.
The story was topical and relevant to our local area.
It was about an issue that impacts directly on our local economy and the reputation of our region. It is not the job of a free media to suppress stories of interest to readers, nor is it their job to act as a cheer squad for an industry. Their job is to air the debate so that readers can make an informed decision.
Mr McPherson contends that the vast majority of farmers are doing the right thing. If that is the case, surely his job as leader of their peak body is to identify and weed out the rogue element that is tarnishing the reputation of the industry.
It would be a much more productive approach than shooting the messenger.