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Dec 29, 2014

Farmers Call on S.I.C.B. to Decide Crop Start Date

Lucilo Teck

That brings us to the industry bottom-line, which is that for all stake-holders from factory to field, the crop season needs to get underway. And it can, according to those we spoke to this afternoon. They state that the Sugar Industry Control Board, government’s player in the industry, has the authority and the obligation to decide on a date for start of crop. And they’re heading to court to spur G.O.B. and the S.I.C.B. into action.

 

Lucilo Teck, Cane Farmer, San Victor Branch

“Out there, farmers that are opposing this agreement, the majority of farmers doesn’t understand that this is a pressure being put by B.S.I. saying that if you do not sign this agreement there will be no crop season, I will not open my factory gates. And people believe it because most farmers own the banks and by fear they have ceding these rights to B.S.I.  And I want to clarify that my act today requesting an injunction—making it quite clear to the country, especially to the northern people—that we are not trying to prevent the country from opening; it is contrary. We are securing our rights and at the same time we have the intention to request Miss Matura to request the court order or mandamus order that the Sugar Board complies with its obligation and duties as it is stated in the Sugar Act that is in force.”

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Attorney

“There is another application that is going to go before the court because legally the Sugar Industry Board is mandated by law to set the date and they have relinquished their responsibility. That is where the government should intervene; that is where all those senior officials of the government who want to intervene should go and tell them to do what is lawfully their duty to do. If you go to the section of the law that deals with that; that is section six paragraph E of the Sugar Industry Act, it tells you clearly that the Board, the Sugar Industry Control Board, must set the date, they must consult with both parties and once they set the date, the factory must accept the product. Unfortunately, no one has seen it proper to explain that to the farmers so that they know that they don’t have to sign an agreement for the crop to start; that there is a legal basis on which the crop can start without reaching an agreement. And unfortunately, I think the mischief makers are ensuring that they never inform the farmers of that you know so that the people feel well, our backs are against the wall and we must sign. We’ve been heeding that warning since last week and the proper authorities who know better, you know—don’t believe that they don’t know better—the proper authorities both in government and the association, who know better, have failed to push that angle. Instead they are using it as leverage to force farmers to go to meeting and feel despite to agree to an agreement that is totally against their interests. So our next important and number one issue is to get the crop started and we will show the farmers that there is a legal way to get it done.”

 

News Five attempted to get a late evening comment from B.S.C.F.A. Chairman Ezekiel Cansino, but he didn’t pick up.

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