Barbera Farms expands operation
BARBERA Farms managers have spoken for the first time about the challenges they faced during receivership, and their determination to keep the huge smallcrops operation going.
Manager Guy Barbera said the farm was now operating about 100 more acres than it was before the receivers Ernst & Young came in, and had taken back hundreds of workers who had been forced out of a job when the farm was forced into caretaker mode last week.
Mr Barbera said between 400 and 500 acres were sold by the receivers, but the farm was now leasing back 500 to 600 acres.
He said while all the farm's equipment had been kept, they did lose some produce.
"There was a lot of wastage during the week we were closed," he said.
"We lost a week's worth of zucchinis and some of the tomatoes were not great."
But despite that, Mr Barbera is confident the business will bounce back.
"The supermarkets and other people we supply with have been unbelievably supportive and come back to us," he said.
Before receivers were appointed in April, the farm was one of the nation's biggest suppliers of zucchinis.
Mr Barbera said it was hard to explain what the business had been through since they convinced the receivers to let the farm operate after they were appointed in April by financiers Suncorp.
"It was a whole new level of negotiation we had to deal with," he said.
Mr Barbera said the company had been overwhelmed with the support shown by the community and their staff.
There were smiles all around at Barbera Farms yesterday, with workers happy just to be back on the job.
Bundaberg South man Cory Beggs was pleased when he
returned to work at the farm's tomato shed.
"I was really happy that I actually had some work," Mr Beggs said.
The 22-year-old did not start looking for work during the week off, believing that the farm would be up and running again quickly.
Thabeban mother-of-three Jocelyn Mountford, a supervisor in the tomato shed, said she also had a firm belief the farm would be up and running this week after it was closed.
"I was happy and kind of surprised (when I heard I had my job back)," she said.