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Nov 20, 2013

Will the mills at B.S.I. be churning with no sugar cane to grind?

But did the BSCFA miss an ideal opportunity to sit at the negotiating table? As we told you, a meeting was set for Tuesday, Garifuna Settlement Day. At the meeting were representatives of B.S.I. and corporate executives from the ASR Group. Today, B.S.I. issued a release chiding BSCFA for its absence. According to the release, “substantial progress has been made in the negotiations and an amended Agreement is close to conclusion with the exception of the issue concerning BSCFA’s request for an additional payment for bagasse.” And that right there is the problem. Farmers want the bagasse issue dealt with now, or an agreement will not be reached. So while B.S.I. reiterates that the mill will be ready to operate on Monday that’s not looking too likely at this point.

 

Alfredo Ortega, Vice-Chairman, Committee of Management, BSCFA

“According to B.S.I. they would have the mill ready to open for the twenty-fifth, but as you know, not only in our agreement but also in the ACT, that for any crop to start both B.S.I. and ourselves as the producers need to sit down and agree upon a day to start and also a day to finalize crops. And based on those decisions then the Board is the one to announce the date of the crop and the closure of the crop.”

 

Reporter

“It might be premature to ask, but you don’t see this happening for the twenty-fifth? You don’t see the crop season starting on the twenty-fifth?”

 

Alfredo Ortega

“No, because we haven’t had any meeting with B.S.I. in that regard to set a date, and our mandate from the farmers is that we do no negotiations to start any crop unless we finalize this agreement.”

 

Reporter

“And basically this isn’t the Association, just a couple people playing hardball? This is the farmers, the mandate of the farmers?”

 

Alfredo Ortega

“It is the mandate of the farmers, the mandate of the farmers…and we have to respect…they are our maximum authority…we have to respect and work based on the decisions taken in any meeting and the mandate they have placed on our shoulders.”

 

The release from B.S.I. ends with what almost amounts to an entreaty to farmers, stating, “no one’s interest (including that of the country, the farmers, or B.S.I.) would be served by unnecessarily delaying the crop.”

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