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Dec 17, 2021

B.S.I. Accepting Sugar Cane December 20th Despite B.S.C.F.A. Threat

Today the Belize Sugar Industries issued a statement saying it will proceed with the opening of the crop season on Monday the twentieth, despite what it describes as attempts at quote, intimidation and threats, unquote, hurled on Thursday by the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association. The Association reportedly informed the mill that they would not participate in the start of crop, without a signed interim agreement.  B.S.I. says it is disappointed in that stance and from their point of view there is no rationale behind it since B.S.C.F.A. farmers have an existing and enforceable contract until January nineteenth, 2022.  B.S.I. feels that the contract obliges B.S.C.F.A. to deliver and sell sugarcane to B.S.I. and that there is ample time for the parties to conclude negotiations on a new commercial agreement.  Today, B.S.I.’s Communications Director, William Neal, told the media that when the two sides met on Thursday to discuss the commercial agreement and the start of crop, the meeting started on a positive note but ended on a sour one. Neal said that one of the concerns has been that it has never been required before now that the start of the crop season be gazetted. The start of the crop always relied on when the various stakeholders.


William Neal

William Neal, Communications Director, A.S.R./B.S.I.

“We have maintained from the beginning that we want to create a way forward that will not take away from anyone. What they have proposed would take away twenty million dollars from the mill at a time, when we can least afford it.  The practice has been not necessarily to gazette the start of the crop, even though that has always been in the act itself. That has not been something that has been practiced. To do that at a late juncture and to call a meeting without saying when the meeting would be held, but to say that it’s because the site of the crop was not gazette is worrisome, and is seen as perhaps an obstructionist approach to actually getting the crop started on Monday.  We have an agreement until January nineteenth, which gives us a month to flesh out on our agreement if we do so in good faith. You may recall at the very beginning may signal that we did not want any disruption. Production looks really good this year, and we want to make sure that we maximize the sugar production. When you have issues of this nature at this late juncture, you can’t help but wonder what is the objective. Government has indicated repeatedly that they do not want to see any disruption. However, if you have the S.I.C.B. chairman saying that there’s a procedural oversight that is within is purview that needs to be completed before the crop is able to start, you can only guess that this action is being taken by the representative of the government that there is their permission to go ahead and go this route.  We’re hoping that this is not the case. But as I said before, there was not a date given for that meeting, but given the fact that the crop is scheduled to start on Monday, we can’t see anything other, or, we can’t think anything other than to say that there is a deliberate attempt to delay the start of the crop.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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