TRIBUTES were today paid to a top North-east farming journalist, who died suddenly at his home.
Friends and colleagues in the industry throughout the UK and further afield have been left stunned by the death of highly respected Press and Journal farming editor Joe Watson at the tragically early age of 43.
He had been in ill-health for some weeks, although it had not stopped Joe working, but his premature death has come as a shock to us all, not least his widowed mother and two brothers, by whom he is survived, and his colleagues at The Press and Journal.
His coverage of farming in The Press and Journal was widely recognised throughout the country and earned the paper the accolade of the Stuart Seaton Award for the best regional newspaper coverage of agricultural news in Britain.
His strong work ethic, knowledge of the industry, accurate reporting, ability to explain complex matters in understandable terms and, above all, his professionalism in everything he did, won him the respect of readers from government ministers to grassroots farmers anxious to catch up with the latest news in the industry.
He could be abrasive in search of the truth and woe betide anyone who tried to pull the wool over his eyes. He was never less than an objective and dispassionate observer of the industry and could be critical if he felt the situation warranted it.
But, equally, he was prepared to stand up to the supermarkets, for example, if he felt farmers were getting a raw deal as he did with both milk and meat, with a relentless campaign to ensure that the big retailers honoured their promises to stock only Scottish produce.
Joe died on Thursday evening at his home in Turriff where he was recovering from a bout of ill health.