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Jul 21, 2014

Cane Farmers Meet to Discuss B.S.I.’s Bagasse Payment Proposal

There is no sign of flexibility in the current bagasse impasse between B.S.I. and the B.S.C.F.A.  Cane farmers met in San Roman, Corozal District, on Sunday to decide on a way forward where the payment for bagasse is concerned. With the farmers opening request at ten dollars per ton, and BSI refusing to back away from its firm offer of fifty-one cents per ton, there has been no compromise from either party. B.S.I. recently upped the pressure by giving farmers until August first to accept the offer, and sweetened the pot by committing a payment retroactive to the 2013-2014 crop. That offer was on the table on Sunday, and it was unanimously rejected by cane-farmers. Mike Rudon has the update from Corozal.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

Cane-farmers from all eighteen branches of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association met on Sunday to give a mandate to the association on a clear path forward. The response was not at all surprising, as farmers rejected en masse B.S.I.’s offer of fifty-one cents per ton for bagasse. With the crop season done and no resolution in sight, the farmers will now turn to the Sugar Industry Control Board, which is government’s entity in the industry.

 

Cane Farmer

“In the contract that still exists, B.S.I. is aware that the cane farmer has the right to negotiate for any bi-product that is derived from cane. And they could call it whatever they want, whether it be bagasse or fiber, they are still using it to produce electricity to be sold to B.E.L.  They cannot deny that.”

 

Alfredo Ortega, Vice Chairman, Committee of Management, BSCFA

“The farmers didn’t accept the fifty-one cents. What they have passed motion for is that we will look at the SICB to seek their intervention into this situation and for them to look forward with experts that will find a way or a solution to the situation where we are at this point.”

 

The farmers are also unanimous in their rejection of BSI’s deadline of August first, with a promise of retroactive payment for bagasse. They have now come up with a deadline of their own. They are asking that the negotiating teams, with the facilitation of the S.I.C.B., come up with some workable solution by August fifteenth.

 

Cane Farmer

“The latest we can give them is until the end of August. B.S.I./S.R.D. says that they will not change their position no matter what. I’m looking at all that. Well, in fact, we will give them until August fifteenth, that’s the latest.”

 

Alfredo Ortega

Alfredo Ortega

“From the very fact that the farmers didn’t accept the fifty-one cents then we are not accepting their deadlines. I think that it is total disrespect for them to come to say that we give you a deadline until August first…if you accept this then we want a clarification on who is the owner of the product. I think that is why we are in negotiations and we should finalize our situation in negotiations which we have been asking them to do from last year. We started our proposal to them from 2012, but we started last year between themselves and us…I think putting a timeline as they have done is total disrespect. With the magnitude of this matter, I think that we need to be very clear and very frank and respectful to one another so that we can end up in a situation where both of us can win.”

 

B.S.I. has stated that BELCOGEN is simply not in a financial position to offer more than fifty-one cents, based on a less than anticipated return on its investment. That assertion isn’t holding water with the B.S.C.F.A., which has consistently refused to accept BSI’s word without proof.

 

Alfredo Ortega

“In our presentation that we have done to them we have shown them that we have taken into consideration their investment that they have. We have taken into consideration all the necessary funds that is needed for them to produce. They have come out with their own formula and how they believe they should pay us, but I think that there is room and sufficient space for them to come out with something better than fifty-one cents. And I think that with the eleven million they have brought out…yes they mentioned it in one of their presentations…but that is something that they have placed – in the same way they are not accepting or even entertaining our formula…how can we then accept that they are only making eleven million dollars as they are saying without having something that is demonstrated frankly with an audit report.”

 

The B.S.C.F.A. has already invested one hundred and thirty-thousand dollars on negotiations, and today an additional fifty-thousand was approved. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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1 Response for “Cane Farmers Meet to Discuss B.S.I.’s Bagasse Payment Proposal”

  1. John John says:

    This is just greediness on the cane farmers side, they already have been paid for the cane, the bi product is not there’s anymore, aren’t cane farmers satisfied with all they get, duty free vehicles, tax free gas and diesel, I mean come on stop being greedy cane farmers….

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