Portofino Resort- Now with a new BEACH BAR!!
Topic Options
#497792 - 11/11/14 10:00 AM BSI-ASR Makes Bold Bid To Bypass BSCFA
Marty Offline
For over a year now - ASR - BSI and the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association have been negotiating to agree on a price for bagasse. But today, BSI effectively leapfrogged that drawn out process and did something thoroughly unprecedented: it bypassed the BSCFA completely and made an appeal directly to the farmers to sign independent 7 year contracts with BSI.

That daring maneuver tonight has set the sugar industry reeling - because on the one side BSI is urging them to abandon their association and deal directly with the factory so that the season can start promptly - and on the other side, the association is urging them to hold firm - and wait for the negotiation process to end - so that they can get an optimal compensation for bagasse.

The factory owners said they're doing this because negotiations have stalled: they last met a month ago with the farmers association - and say it is not dealing with the matter urgently - even when the start of the season is only a month away. So today, they made history - in a press conference at BSI headquarters at the Tower Hill Factory in Orange Walk:..

Belizario Carballo - Chief Financial Officer - BSI
"Over one month has now passed and we have not heard from the BSCFA on this matter which is now critical, critically urgent, given that we are less than a month from the expected start of the 2014/15 crop. Additionally, statements made by BSCFA representatives in public media subsequent to our last meeting lead us to believe that the BSCFA has no intention to conclude a new agreement for the sale and purchase of sugarcane before the start of the 2014/15 crop. We do not foresee any prospect in the near future or being able to secure an agreement with the BSCFA on behalf of all sugarcane farmers. BSI will now move ahead with alternative options to secure agreement for the supply of sugarcane to BSI effective 2014/15 crop with those farmers and associations that desire to start the crop on time. We have now taken a decision in light of these circumstances to move ahead to coordinate the crop with those farmers and group of farmers who wish to deliver their cane. BSI will now pursue separate but similar agreements but to the draft agreement last discuss with the BSCFA on 9th October 2014. With other associations of cane farmers, group of farmers and if necessary individual cane farmers who wish to deliver their cane. The agreement is fundamentality the same as has existed in the past. The new element of the agreement is the inclusion of a provision to pay for bagasse which BSI had committed to as part of negotiating a new agreement."

Mac McLachlan, International Relations Advisor - ASR
"We try very hard to come to an agreement in order to move the crop forward, but we are here as the statement said less than a month away from the opening of the crop and its essential at this time that we start to coordinate that crop because we cannot afford to have another late start."

So now BSI - ASR is appealing directly to the 5,500 farmers, through their 370 reaping groups and 18 branch associations. It is a very high stakes gamble for BSI-ASR - but strategically a worthwhile one if they can break the association's stranglehold on the farmers while also starting the season on time - which did not appear likely the way things were going.

Of course - they won't even discuss the deeper game - right now they're just in a hurry to sign up as many farmers as they can - all, if possible:

Mac McLachlan, International Relations Advisor - ASR
"What we need to do; we need to know how many farmers would wish to sign an agreement and to deliver their cane and we need to know how much cane they plan to deliver and we need to know that in good anticipation of the crop in order to plan for the arrival of that cane and that it will be treated properly. The timing we are looking at is the 28th November, by which they would have let us know if they wish to sign up and deliver cane. At that point we would have to take a decision whether there are sufficient cane registered as it were to come so that we can put in place plans for a successful crop. This is very much in the hands of cane farmers and themselves, they will have to ask themselves the question whether they wish to settle and deliver the cane. From our perspective we believe that there is a huge amount of interest in doing that, but we will see."

Jules Vasquez
"Even if you are widely successful that you wouldn't get 100% uptake unless there is some sort of breakthrough. You will inevitably have people who have to resist for maybe familiar reasons or other things."

Mac McLachlan, International Relations Advisor - ASR
"I don't believe that it is a full-ground conclusion that we wouldn't get all the cane in. Certainly we will be disappointed if we didn't and it would be our ambition to actually achieve that."

So they're hoping for 100% uptake - and we're sure the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association will have something to say about that - but today they were in emergency meetings - and up to newstime unavailable for comment.

BSI-ASR informed them in writing of the position today - and we gather it caught the association off guard. But for BSI-ASR, it has been steadily building towards this, meeting with farmers, meeting with reaping groups, and large farmers for months. Within the next 17 days, we'll know if that consensus building paid off.

But, what are the deeper implications for the Cane Farmers Association or any other association? First off, the Wilfredo Magana challenge in 2010 established that membership in the Belize Sugar Cane Famers Association is not mandatory; the constitutional guarantee of freedom of association established that farmers do not have to be members.

But, what about the principle of it? The idea that a multinational can simply bypass a farmers association because it doesn't like their pace. We asked that today:..

Jules Vasquez
"How do you answer the criticism that you all are trying to break the back of the Belize Sugarcane Famers Association, that it is association busting as it might be called?"

Mac McLachlan
"I think all we are doing by offering to settle independently with cane farmers is just giving them... it our perception that talking with a lot of different cane farmers in the field as we have been, that many of them want to have that choice."

Michael Young, attorney
"We reach the point where the BSCFA has it position, BSI has it position and they could not meet between the two. Are we going to allow that to stop the commencement of the crop? No."

Jules Vasquez
"How would you respond for a characterization which said that it's just a ruthless, capitalist maneuver by ASR divide and rule, eliminate the farmers' association and basically forced the farmers into an agreement which may not be completely optimal for them but its suits us just fine and we're not going any further because we don't even want to pay for the bi-product, how do you respond to that characterization?"

Mac McLachlan
"I think Jules you have to remember that we have been trying to negotiate this for a long period of time now and that you can see that there can be towing and frowning in certain political tight negotiations over bagasse or whatever, but we are now about to hit a very critical point and that is the time table for the crop and I think personally that overrides other considerations. I believe that what we are doing is providing the opportunity for cane farmers to speak with their feet and to tell us what they think about the future."

And the future starts tomorrow: ASR is calling Orange Walk farmers to a meeting at 8:30 am to see and, if possible, sign the contracts. BSI - we are told has responded to the BSI letter sent to them this morning, and will be having a press conference as well. We'll have full coverage in tomorrow night's newscast.

Channel 7

#497839 - 11/12/14 08:13 AM Re: BSI-ASR Makes Bold Bid To Bypass BSCFA [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

BSR-ASI Drives Ahead To Capture Cane Farmers

Last night we told you how the sugar mill, BSI-ASR had made a bold and unheard of move - urging the 5,500 cane farmers in the north to bypass their association - and sign contracts directly with the mill.

It's a daring maneuver and one heck of a gamble -which, if successful, would radically re-arrange the commercial landscape of the industry. Today was day one of the experiment when ASR-BSI called farmers from Corozal and Orange Walk to conferences learn more about the contract. The meeting started at 8:30 in Orange Walk Town and 7News was there:..

Jules Vasquez reporting
This morning over 200 cane farmers filled the hall at Gala Lounge in Orange Walk Town for what was dubbed a "pre-harvest conference."

Mac McLachlan, V.P. Int'l Relations - ASR
"We are aiming to try to have informative sessions with all harvest group leaders and that's about 370 in total in both Orange Walk and Corozal; about 170 in Orange Walk and I think we got pretty close to that number here."

They were there to hear the pitch from ASR BSI - on this, the proposed 18 page 7 year contract - complete that the factory wants them to sign by November 28th. Complete with accompanying brochure in Spanish - an indication of how thoroughly thought out the strategy is for ASR.

They listened studiously and attentively - analyzing what may be the toughest commercial decision they'll ever made; some spoke stridently even against their own association - while others verbalized passionately.

But mostly the farmers listened, and reasoned amongst themselves - appearing neither hostile nor too cozy with ASR.

But their presence alone spoke volumes: they were there against the implicit wishes of their association - they were there to hear what the other side had to offer:

Mac McLachlan, V.P. Int'l Relations - ASR
"We got an overriding sense that people are very serious about this crop. They want to plan for it, they want to move forward with it and I think to be honest the attendance speaks for itself here."

And while the turnout is one thing, the devil is in the details - and one big one is this clause right at the top, number 2.2 where BSI makes it clear that it owns the cane - a non-negotiable article for ASR-BSI:

Jules Vasquez
"We've heard a lot of blowback about the fine print."

Mac McLachlan, V.P. Int'l Relations - ASR
"Absolutely, I think that's the whole purpose of having these outreach meetings now, is to listen, is to hear what the farmers themselves have to say."

Terencio Chan, cane farmer, OW Branch
"Okay we are going to sign this, but it's just an interim agreement until we can come up and let us look at some of the issues and let's see if we can amend them. But definitely we need to move forward and get the crop started."

"Is there any possibility that this contract may be revised following their questions and concerns?"

Mac McLachlan, V.P. Int'l Relations - ASR
"As I said to the farmers today we are listening to their views and the issue we have is that we have a timeline. Not everybody is going to agree with everything. I think that's fairly obvious but at the end of the day will be the choice of the cane farmer and the association whether or not they wish to sign up to a contract."

Terencio Chan, cane farmer, OW Branch
"It's not that whether I am going to take sides, but I am looking at it objectively so that we can be more conscientious of what is going on and not to delay this crop and if BSI is giving us an opportunity whereby as we groups or individual cane farmers we can start delivering our cane, even though it is not the Cane Farmers Association that will be responsible to organizing this group - that is good for me."

And while there were those for and against, at the end of the day we didn't see anyone signing the contract - they seemed more prepared to take a wait and see approach.

Cane Farmers Assoc. Holds Its Ground, But Can It Hold Members?

And that is just fine by the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association. The "wait and see" approach gives them some latitude to negotiate in a very pressurized situation, and also it offers them the opportunity at plausible deniability; meaning that, until some big farmer actually signs a contract, BSCFA executives can still say that the farmers have not defected from the association, they are just hearing for themselves what BSI has to offer.

The Association held a meeting with its 18 directors this morning at its headquarters in Orange Walk Town - and after that they had a press briefing - as a prelude to a full press conference tomorrow. CEO Oscar Alonzo told us that they reject the BSI-ASR maneuver:..

Oscar Alonzo, CEO - BSCFA
"We view this matter with great concern okay. This new approach that BSI has embarked upon in order to try to settle a negotiation process and this is the thing that we will examine tomorrow and denounce the ruthless, manner in which ASR/BSI, an American transnational cooperation in now trying to introduce a new mode of economic activity that has serious implications for the future and the welfare of the cane farmers."

Jules Vasquez
"Are you concern that BSI/ASR is moving so swiftly that it may take the cane farmers support from behind the BSCFA?"

Representative - BSCFA
"The farmers that were present today, they were contacting their respective branch directors before they go and they re-advise them to go to be informed and many of them said that they will not be signing anything yet until the BSCFA advise them what will be the arrangement that we will be doing with BSI."

Oscar Alonzo, CEO - BSCFA
"We have always encourage our members to seek information from all sources in order to make the proper decision that will ensure their wellbeing and protect their interest. So we have not deterred the farmers from assisting in these as BSI calls them pre-harvest conferences."

Mike Rudon, CH5
"Do you consider this a crisis to the industry, for the association?"

Oscar Alonzo, CEO - BSCFA
"In our view it wouldn't be a crisis because as we will explain tomorrow we have provided a way out. It's up to BSI that will try to consider this way out."

The "way out" that the Cane Farmers Association proposes may well be an interim agreement - it's worked before - and by that reasoning, you might say, it could work again.

That proposal was put to BSI-ASR in a letter from the cane farmers association yesterday evening, but Mac Maclachlan says he's not interested:...

Mac McLachlan, V.P. Int'l Relations - ASR
"I don't think that an interim agreement is going to help us at this time."

Oscar Alonzo, CEO - BSCFA
"Well, he can express his objections right. We have seen that an interim agreement has been able to work."

Mac McLachlan
"I really don't see that having another interim agreement is going to help resolved the fundamental issues. We've reach an impasse on BSI on that. I think it's time we turn the page on bagasse, it cost this industry a tremendous amount of money over the last year through inactivity to plan for the future. We have major challenges for the industry coming ahead. I think at this stage it's time for us to negotiate a long term cane agreement."

ASR-BSI met with the Corozal Cane farmers this afternoon. The BSCFA will have its press conference tomorrow morning.

And if the alphabet soup of the powers that be in the cane constellation has you scratching your head - we sympathize, there are a lot of abbreviations.

And so to break it down… First, ASR - is American Sugar Refining - the largest sugar refining company in the world and the relatively new majority shareholder in BSI - which is the Belize Sugar Industries, the company that produces every grain of sugar consumed in Belize and buys every stalk of cane produced by cane farmer sin the north.

And the BSCFA is the Belize sugar Cane Farmers Association - which represents all the 5,500 farmers through 18 branches.

Wilfredo Magana More Than A Historical Footnote

At the top of the newscast, we told you all about the moves and counter-moves between ASR-BSI on one side and the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association on the other. Both are jostling for control of the cane farmers as the opening of the crop is only a month away. Right now it's too early to tell how it will go - but one man who's observing with bemusement is Wilfredo Magana. You probably don't know his name; he isn't a big time politician or some high rolling shot caller; he's a small cane farmer who - along with other farmers had a radical idea in 2007: they challenged the supremacy of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association. At the time, the law said that all cane farmers had to be members of the BSCFA and had to pay what's known as a "cess" back to that organization.

But, Magana and a few fellow farmers said it wasn't fair because it denied them the freedom of association guaranteed to them by the constitution. In 2009 the Supreme Court pronounced that they were right - and that landmark decision is what has enabled BSI-ASR to go around the BSCFA and appeal directly to the farmers to sign independent contracts absent the association.

Today, Magana says he is gratified with the way things have turned out:..

Wilfredo Magana, United Cane Farmers Assoc.
"I am very happy that this is happening that the challenge had to be made in court and in 2008 that's what I did, I took the matter to court."

Jules Vasquez
"Now, you paved the way?"

Wilfredo Magana
"Yes basically..."

Jules Vasquez
"Because it's you who said you don't have to be a member of BSCFA and the court upheld that. So how did you feel yesterday when you heard ASR said okay, you are all free, come direct?"

Wilfredo Magana
"I remember I was coming from work and I was tired and sat down and look at the news. As a matter of fact when I heard Mr. Belizario had re-quote what the court had said. Man, it made me feel happy because with all this time in court and all this sitting on the verandah of the Supreme Court, it just paid off. It's a benefit to me too, but it's not a direct benefit. But to see the cane farmers have that freedom and today they can choose where they want to belong. That's very nice."

Magana says he hopes that the farmers would join his United Cane Farmers Group under a governance structure which is different from the BSCFA. He says his group could also apply for fair trade funding.

As for the "cess" it is still there - but if ASR-BSI successfully bypasses the association with independent farmer contracts - it could be in jeopardy.

Channel 7

#497913 - 11/14/14 10:01 AM Re: BSI-ASR Makes Bold Bid To Bypass BSCFA [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Vega: Government Can Only Do So Much For Sugar

But one burning public issue that Vega has to comment on is the impasse in the sugar industry. He's the Deputy PM, the Minister of Agriculture and the UDP's political boss in the north. The sugar standoff is so huge it touches all three of those spheres of influence.

But, right now, the sugar industry is also a sort of political third rail, too highly charged for any elected official to come down squarely on either side of the issue.

So today, Vega was perhaps deliberately vague on what the government will do:..

Hon. Gaspar Vega, Minister of Agriculture
"All we can do is continue to encourage them to come around the table and ensure that both parties compromise as much as possible for us to be able to start a crop with at the best, the least challenges possible. I think that we cannot start dictating or demanding. We have to negotiate, we have to come around the table. Like I always say gone are the days when you can pull a stick and pull a machete or whatever the case may be. We have to learn to negotiate with each other. I still believe that there is room for that and we shouldn't give up on it."

Jules Vasquez
"Would you advocate for a situation where ASR/BSI directly enters into contractual relationships with independent small farmers? Or in your opinion should it be having the association as a go-between?"

Hon. Gaspar Vega, Minister of Agriculture
"I always believe that once the farmers are united, they will have strength. It is common knowledge, so of course I would prefer that, but also w have to realize that like everything else people at this time want to deliver cane. A lot of farmers have commitments with the banks. At one time banks use to take their quotas as collateral. Today that doesn't work anymore. So a lot of farmers have their houses as collateral at the banks. They cannot afford to risk that, so I can see the uneasiness of some farmers that they are willing to deliver their cane. In fact, it's not that they are willing, they know that they have to. Otherwise they won't have a shed over their heads."

"Last year this was something that happened and then it reached a stalemate; BSI held to its position and the same thing with the Belize Sugarcane Farmers Association, then the government came in and spoke to BSI and there was a compromise for the signing for an interim agreement. Is the government prepared to do sometime similar as we approach the end of the month with the schedule start of the crop season is due?"

Hon. Gaspar Vega, Minister of Agriculture
"We don't want certain things to be repeated. But again, I have to say that the government is just a facilitator; whatever we can do, we will do for the benefit of the industry."

Jules Vasquez
"What ASR/BSI is proposing is sort of a regulation free environment where they would engage in commercial arrangements with reaping groups or farmers and in fact it would leave the association or the government out of it. It's like you deal with me, I pay you what's on this contract - end of story. Shouldn't the government be there to insulate the small farmers against being taken advantage of?"

Hon. Gaspar Vega, Minister of Agriculture
"The governments' role is to always ensure that the less advantage is protected and we will always do that. How we do it, we have to be careful because like I said we do not have the power to tell BSI what to do or tell the Belize Sugarcane Farmers Association what to do. If a group of farmers come to us for help, for assistance or guidance, most definitely we would be there to do that."

And while government "isn't giving up on it" - whatever that means - the Cane Farmers Association is moving ahead with plans for a general membership meeting on Saturday where it will plan its next move.

Channel 7

#497969 - 11/15/14 10:17 AM Re: BSI-ASR Makes Bold Bid To Bypass BSCFA [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

BSI/BSCFA Back and Forth Continues

The 2014-2015 sugar cane crop season is threatened by an impasse between the factory and the farmers. Latest developments this week are that BSI has sought to bypass the BSCFA, in a move to sign contracts with small reaping groups and individual farmers. The BSCFA has countered that move, holding meetings with all eighteen branches of the Association and calling a general assembly meeting this Saturday at Escuela Mexico in San Roman, Corozal. BSI is moving full steam ahead and today issued two releases, one to farmers and one to the general public castigating the BSCFA. The first is telling farmers that the consultation period is extended to November eighteenth. On the twenty-first, farmers will be presented with a final draft of the agreement, and by the twenty-eighth they must have signed the contract. If the factory received its minimum requirement of six thousand tons per day, then all’s good. If it doesn’t, then it’s back to square one. And square one is addressed in BSI’s second release, which reiterates that it will not sign any interim agreement with the BSCFA. The release also makes direct reference to the real threat of industrial action, stating that quote – “Some leaders of the BSCFA have again resorted to threats and intimidation, which is not a new phenomenon in the industry. Any undesirable action arising from this can have severe consequences on the sugar industry and the national economy. This has gone on for too long at the expense of building a commercially focused and viable industry. We will not be intimidated by these threats,” end quote. It’s nothing new…nothing that BSI hasn’t stated before, but it is a clear reiteration that any agreement between the parties is extremely unlikely.

Channel 5

#498004 - 11/16/14 10:03 AM Re: BSI-ASR Makes Bold Bid To Bypass BSCFA [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Caneros give ultimatum

The General Assembly of the Belize sugarcane Farmers resolved on Saturday that they will take industrial action in five days counting from Monday if Central Government and the Sugar Industry Control Board do not intervene to end the ongoing impasse with the American Sugar Refineries owned Belize Sugar Industries.

Over 800 cañeros gathered at the Escuela Secundaria Tecnica Mexico in Corozal, expressing their solidarity with the BSCFA on the ongoing impasse with BSI.

Vice Chairman of the BSCFA, Alfredo Ortega explained that the association is calling on central government to intervene and resolve the deadlock in negotiations in light of the fast approaching deadline to start the 2014-2015 sugarcane crop.

“The farmers are looking for a particular period for things to be resolved and that is Monday to Friday after that things will need to be moved,” Ortega said.

Ortega added that the farmers are only asking for a fair wage to be paid for bagasse, but that BSI has refused to compromise in the negotiations.

The cañeros passed two other resolutions at the meeting, one to establish a marketing, committee which will oversee how sugar is being marketed and sold in the European Union, and the other is to propose to Cabinet that the price of local sugar be increased.

The Sugar Industry Control Board is scheduling a meeting on Monday in an effort to bring all stakeholders to the table in an attempt to end the impasse and start the crop on time.

The Reporter

#498077 - 11/18/14 10:25 AM Re: BSI-ASR Makes Bold Bid To Bypass BSCFA [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

BSCFA Says It Stands Strong – “99% Support From Farmers”

Tonight the impasse in the sugar industry stands - there's been no deal between the factory and the caneros, except there is one significant change. After an emergency meeting on Saturday, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association says the farmers stand with them - and that no one has or will sign any independent contract with BSI or ASR.

Jules Vasquez found out more when he went to the meeting on Saturday:...

Jules Vasquez reporting
About 500 farmers came out to the open air auditorium at Escuela Secondaria Technica Mexico in San Roman Village.

Jules Vasquez
"How do you respond to the criticism that only a few hundred farmers attended? He counted 700, I counted 500, but its only 10% of the full amount."

Alfred Ortega, Bagasse Negotiating Team
"Well Jules, you see me here standing up, I am representing 8 farmers. Mr. Keme is representing 10 farmers and there are many of us in this meeting that we work as family and we represent family members. So if you see 800 members here and you times them by 5, you don't have to go to 8 - by 5 and you will see the amount of farmers that are here. So the voice of these people that are here today is a strong voice."

While we saw lots of empty chairs in our area - the Association stressed they have 100% support of the cane farmers:

Alfred Ortega, Bagasse Negotiating Team
"We have the full support and you can see we have 99.9% support less BSI that is a farmer and he is not supporting the issue. But all the rest is supporting the issue."

And with the Association bosses say its game, set and match to them:

Alfred Ortega, Bagasse Negotiating Team
"I think today has proven that the agreement that BSI has put forward has come to an end today. The farmers had already passed a motion that they are prepared to start a crop with the interim agreement. So that means that what BSI has put forward has come to a dead today."

Javier Keme, Chairman, Finance Committee
"The rumors or there are groups that have the intention or the idea of reaching to our signing that agreement offered by BSI as an option is now shown that that is not so."

And now that they say they have the full support of the cane farmers - meaning the upper hand in this dispute - the Association passed a resolution to lay out its terms:

Oscar Alonzo, CEO - BSCFA
"The BSCFA and its members are prepared to start the crop and that an interim agreement be signed."

Javier Keme, Chairman, Finance Committee
"The best thing is to get BSI to agree to accept the interim agreement to start our crop."

Oscar Alonzo, CEO - BSCFA
"Famers want the crop to start, but all the relevant authorities BSI, Government, SICB need to act quickly in respect of the cane farmer's request."

Of course none of that is new: it's basically saying that just like ASR we're holding our position - except now the responsibility for solving the problem shifts to the government, namely the Sugar Industry Control Board.

Alfred Ortega, Bagasse Negotiating Team
"Because we need intervention of the government to resolve this situation."

The chairman of the sugar industry control board - former UDP Minister Gabriel Martinez - was there to defend himself and to give assurances that Government was monitoring the situation:

Gabriel Martinez, Chairman - Sugar Industry Control Board
"Correspondences have been shared and requests have been made to the SICB, hence our reason for responding to the request which have been made at this time."

Javier Keme, Chairman, Finance Committee
"With the commitment of the chairman of the SICB in our meeting committing that they will be more active in trying to reach to a solution in a shorter time or before the 28th or the end of this month to have a more committed time to start the crop on time."

The subject of the resolution is not new: that the Sugar Board basically compel BSI/ASR to agree to an interim agreement and then impose the appointment of an independent negotiator:

Jules Vasquez
"Do they have unreasonable expectations of the government? They want the government to step in and fix it and force ASR/BSI to deal with the sugarcane farmers association or to accept the interim agreement."

Gabriel Martinez
"Well Jules as I said, the SICB will provide that environment, it will facilitate the process. Whatever comes out of the meeting with the board, I cannot foretell."

Oscar Alonzo
"We ask the SICB to act quickly on the request that had been made; 1). That an independent expert be recruited to evaluate the 2 formulas for the payment of bagasse; and also to consider the request of the BSCFA where it says that it is determine to start the crop, but that an interim agreement be sign."

Jules Vasquez
"Sir but ASR/BSI will not accept an independent expert. That what the Prime Minister said."

Gabriel Martinez
"Jules, the SICB is here to facilitate the process. We will call a meeting."

That meeting though is planned for the 25th - and this meeting called for an answer within five days:

Mike Rudon, CH5
"They are looking at now. Yet you all are looking to meet the 25th."

Gabriel Martinez
"I mentioned a while ago that on Monday, we are going back to our members to see if we can accommodate for a time that according to the assembly was mentioned a while ago."

But there were no definitive answers, and no palpable sense of urgency:

Gabriel Martinez
"Well I guess that the announcement made today by the BSCFA that they are in pro of starting a crop on time will speak a lot to get the farmers in tune and in line to more dialogue and better results at the end of the day."

Jules Vasquez
"Is it a desirable state of affairs for the Sugar Industry Control Board that there be independent contracts commercial arrangements signed between the mill and the reaping groups or the famers independent of any association or any other intermediary? Is that a desirable state of affairs?"

Gabriel Martinez
"No Jules. Of course we would want to have the present association; the Belize sugarcane farmers association properly grounded on its feet."

But the association is also aware of its power. This man spoke about a demonstration on Belmopan.

Farmer (translated)
"If we start the crop without an interim agreement if that decision is not made then we will proceed with a big public social demonstration."

Oscar Alonzo
"We start the crop without an interim agreement, if that decision is not made, then it will proceed with a big public social demonstration to have all parties understand the gravity and the need to resolve this issue before the end of this month so that we have a crop to begin."

Alfred Ortega
"The farmers are looking forward into a 5 days period that things be solve and that means this Monday to Friday and from there after then things need to be move to be shown that things are going on."

So now the terms of the engagement going forward have been declared - yet still no one knows how it will unfold:

Mike Rudon, CH5
"Where do you see this going? What's the best case and worse case scenarios?"

Gabriel Martinez
"The best case is that we start a crop on time because everyone has realize the losses that were incurred last year. About the worst case scenario, well I wouldn't want to think about it because farmers have different feelings and at certain instances they have displayed their strong personalities and what's not."

So all eyes are on the Sugar Industry Control Board - and up to this afternoon they had not changed the date for their November 25th meeting. We'll keep following it.

Channel 7

#498208 - 11/22/14 09:57 AM Re: BSI-ASR Makes Bold Bid To Bypass BSCFA [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Cane Farmers And SICB Agree To Meet Next Week

On Saturday, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association gave the Government appointed industry regulator, known as the S-I-C-B, or the Sugar Industry Control Board until today to bring all sides of the sugar dispute to the negotiating table so that they can hammer out a resolution.

But, two of the members of the SICB are out of the country, so they could not get the meeting together. Today the Cane Farmers Association agreed to wait until November 25th when the SICB had first planned to hold its meeting.

In the meantime, the BSCFA executive has met with the Deputy Prime Minister.

On the ASR/BSI side of the dispute the company has decided to push back the date for issuing its final agreement. That was to have been done today, but the company says it has been getting sufficient and steady feedback from farmers to convince them to hold off on issuing it until they can factor in all the farmers issue - which, we are told, extend to safety and security.

Channel 7

#498437 - 11/29/14 09:32 AM Re: BSI-ASR Makes Bold Bid To Bypass BSCFA [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

PM Meets Cane Farmers; A Cause For Cautious Optimism

For weeks now, the future of the sugar industry has been clouded by the ongoing impasse between the cane farmers association and the owners of the sugar mill, ASR/BSI. But, finally tonight, there appears to be some room for optimism in this critical national industry. That's after the Prime Minister and ranking government officials held a meeting in Belize City with the Executive of the cane farmers association and the 18 branch presidents from all over the north. 7News was there from beginning to end and Jules Vasquez reports:

Jules Vasquez reporting
The directors lined the verandah at the Biltmore to wait for their meeting with the top brass from the ministry of agriculture, the deputy prime minister, and the Chairman of the Sugar Industry Control Board and at 10:20 am - the Prime Minister.

After that everyone piled into the boardroom for a meeting that would last two hours.

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Government congratulates the BSCFA and commends the BSCFA on the position that has now emerged. Which position in our view represents a fair and in deed compelling basis on which negotiations can now take place. The position that has emerged represents perhaps, and I want to choose my word carefully, a refining of what still remains - the core stands of the BSCFA, but in an effort to move the process forward, the BSCFA has introduced some modifications into their core position. Happily the outcome of this meeting is such that I will immediately thereafter get in touch with ASR and invite them to agree the actual date for the resumption of negotiations. I have no doubt that the BSCFA position is a fair one, seeks to protect the interests of the cane farmers, but seeks at the same time to be able to compromise with ASR so that the crop and the industry can go forward. If this is matched on the part of ASR/BSI, we should be able to reach agreement."

Ezequiel Cansino, Chairman - BSCFA
"The position of the BSCFA has been one that the cane farmers has given us the mandate to start the crop with an interim agreement. But the time is getting, is closing out for the start of a crop and we as usual have been flexible in the negotiations. So here we are today with the Prime Minister assuring him that BSCFA is being once again flexible and reasonable and asking his intervention to help us to bring back BSI to the negotiating table. This is, we feel the best that can happen to the industry since we have an overproduction this year and our cane farmers cannot afford to lose none of that production."

"Does the concession include that interim agreement?"

Ezequiel Cansino, Chairman - BSCFA
"Just as I've said; we are willing to negotiate and we are asking BSI to come to the table."

And while that sounds good, what happens if it doesn't work:

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"If the negotiations do not result in success? Well government wants a corp. The farmers, the economy of the north, the economy of Belize need a crop. And I have already communicated this in no uncertain terms to ASR/BSI. Here we have this movement on the part of the BSCFA which convinces me that we can have a crop..but ultimately if the negotiations do not prove fruitful….there are limits on what government can do."

Both sides - the cane farmers and ASR/BSI are expected to meet early next week - but no date has been set. But before that there will be an AGM of the Cane Farmers Association on Sunday - and no one knows what the general membership will say about a possible compromise.

Channel 7


Click for excellent scuba lessons with Elbert Greer!

Things to do

Daily News
Daily Weather

Classified Ads
San Pedro Sun
Ambergris Today
SP Town Council
Channel 7
Channel 5
Love FM
The Reporter
Caye Caulker

TV Newscasts
Radio Stations

Click for our
Search thousands of Belizean-only websites

Event Guides
Event Calendar
Specials & Events
Things to Do
iTravel Belize
Paradise Theater

San Pedro Scoop!
Tia Chocolate
My Beautiful Belize
I-Travel Belize
Belize Adventure
Belize Hub
Romantic Travel
Bound for Belize
Conch Creative
As The Coconuts Drop
More Blogs...
Search thousands of Belizean-only websites
Chaa Creek is an award-winning luxury Belize Resort, rated as one of the worlds best Eco Lodges. We are a pioneer in adventure travel to Belize since 1981!
White Sands Dive Shop - 5 Star PADI Dive Facility - Daily diving, SCUBA instruction and Snorkeling
Caribbean Inspired All Natural Condiments & Spice Blends, Over 100 are Gluten Free!
We manage a variety of homes, apartments, condos and commercial properties here on Ambergris Caye. Our minimum lease on ALL properties is six months.
Conch Shell Inn: All rooms are right on the beach in the heart of San Pedro, so within walking distance to anything and everything!!
Lil’ Alphonse has snorkel equipment to fit anyone as well as Marine Park Tickets and flotation devices to assist those not as experienced.
Coastal Xpress offers a daily scheduled ferry run to most resorts, restaurants and private piers on the island of Anbergris Caye. We also offer  private and charter water taxi service.
Mini Chat

Cayo Espanto
Click for Cayo Espanto, and have your own private island
More Links
Click for exciting and adventurous tours of Belize with Katie Valk!
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31
Who's Online
0 registered (), 36 Guests and 7 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
18,713 Registered Members
44 Forums
64,333 Topics
463,111 Posts

Most users ever online: 1,262 @ 06/10/07 07:16 PM

AmbergrisCaye.com CayeCaulker.org HELP! Visitor Center Goods & Services San Pedro Town
BelizeSearch.com Message Board Lodging Diving Fishing Things to Do History
BelizeNews.com Maps Phonebook Belize Business Directory
BelizeCards.com SanPedroDaily.com Picture of the Day

The opinions and views expressed on this board are the subjective opinions of Ambergris Caye Message Board members
and not of the Ambergris Caye Message Board its affiliates, or its employees.