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The tug of war continues between BSI and the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association as both parties have yet to reach a mutual agreement over several issues that were being negotiated, the principal ones being cane ownership and payment for bagasse. In a new contract BSI is proposing directly to cane farmers and or group of farmers includes these points but under the company’s own terms. The Association argues that these terms will be detrimental to the farmers in the long and even short term.


BSI has said that they are taking this step because they cannot afford another impasse on the next crop, stressing that this is a crucial time to prepare for the upcoming challenges for the industry, while the association has said that there was never an intention to do so by farmers. In response to the company’s move, BSCFA is asking BSI to sign another interim agreement. BSI has issued a release stating that they have received that letter but reiterate that another interim agreement will quote, “prolong the current climate of uncertainty and have long-term costly consequences for all (including cane farmers)”. 


ASR Public Relations Representative Mac McLachlan elaborates in an over the phone interview as he is currently out of the country.

Screen_Shot_2014-11-14_at_8.08.33_PMMac McLachlan- International Relations Vice President, ASR

“We did that last year and fi you recall it got us nowhere as there is still a fundamental impasse on the issue of bagasse payment and I don’t think that pushing this issue back for another year is good for the industry.

BSI stands its ground stating again that the principles are fair to cane farmers in Belize, adding that the payment of 65% of net stripped value of sugar and molasses to cane farmers is one of the most favorable payment arrangements for sugar cane in the world.  But another area of contention for farmers is centered on cane ownership. BSI, in its release indicates that, quote “the agreement sets out the terms and conditions for the sale and purchase of sugar cane and therefore provides for ownership of the product to transfer from the seller to the buyer at a defined point” end of Quote. It goes on to say that the BSCFA has sought to sensationalize this proposal.

Mac McLachlan- International Relations Vice President, ASR

“There is fundamental misunderstanding on the issue of cane ownership. Every single sugar industry in the world needs to have their security, the ones who purchase sugar cane it owns the sugar cane and it owns the sugar that is produced through the factory that enables that industry to utilize the sugar and to sell it and nobody would contract to buy the sugar if the company would not own it. So this has always been the case in Belize and we are not changing that situation but we could not operate in any other way either so I think it is a misconception over the issue of ownership itself and what that means. I think there is another misconception that we are actually responding to cane farmers who have asked to be able to settle directly with us. We are also responding to the law of Belize which permits individuals to settle with us on cane delivery. I think that there are proud democratic traditions in Belize and I don’t see why cane farmers should not be able to rely on those constitution provisions. I think cane farmers have as much right as anybody else to freedom of associations and freedom to sell their cane should they wish too.”

BSCFA officials have indicated that they have been trying to carry the negotiations in good terms with the company but given the circumstance they may not be able to hold the peace. In response to this, in its release BSI states that, quote, “any undesirable action arising from this can have severe consequences on the sugar industry and the national economy,” and that they, “will not be intimidated by these threats, convinced that our move is in response to the wishes of cane farmers for an opportunity to set out a proper course for industry sustainability” end of quote.

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