VP of International Relations at BSI says industry stakeholders need to work together
The Belize Sugarcane Farmers Association and Belize Sugar Industries are at odds again over the details of their commercial agreement just days before the expected start of the 2023-2024 sugarcane crop. Over the past few weeks, BSI has been calling for the farmers to sign a four-year agreement which the company says will provide stability for the industry but the association has refused on the grounds that several major concerns with eh agreement have not been addressed. Today, Mac MacLachlan, VP of International Relations for BSI, said that he feels right now the industry is in need of all its stakeholders working together rather than quarreling.
Mac Mclaughlin, VP of International Relations, BSI: “I’m hoping that you know we’re in a position where cane prices are record levels. It really is time to consolidate, to work together with certainty. You asked earlier you know about consistency this is all about consistency. We’ve asked BSCFA if they’ll continue with the current arrangement for another four years, I certainly hope they will. Every year more uncertainty means we can’t really invest here in the ways we’d like and that’s always been the case and we’ve made the argument now for years and years and years. I think the fact that our investments have proven that it’s not only sugar prices that improve cane prices in the end that’s a major part of it but also going to value added sugars as we have done, improving efficiency, reducing cost in transport and shipping, all of these things come together to you know blow the previous high cane price out the water. So I know for a fact because we talk to a lot of farmers that are very happy with the way things are going at the moment, they’re investing more in their and. There’s no time now to have some kind of really detrimental relationship break down I believe. I think that what we need to do is work together now, move forward and demonstrate collectively what we can do together.”
Addressing the association’s request that BSI pay them the Fair Trade Premium instead of Tate and Lyle Sugars, MacLachlan says that the BSI cannot assume that responsibility.
Mac Mclaughlin, VP of International Relations, BSI: “We are not certified as a conveyer for Fair Trade so we can’t take that responsibility and there’s no actual reason why we would because we’re not marketing that Fair Trade product and we’re not the one responsible for paying the premium so I think it’s very misleading and it certainly is no excuse for not starting a crop. There is no excuse for not starting a crop. We’ve worked hard in the mill to get it ready. We’re heating up those boilers as we speak. We’re ready to go. We need to go. We’ve got contracts we need to meet both in Belize and also in the CARICOM and elsewhere. This is a business. It’s not something you just turn on or turn off and decide you can do can’t do. It’s in everybody’s interest and particularly every cane farmers interest at this time that we move forward with this crop. They will get their first payment for cane before Christmas and you know this next year is looking very constructive for cane prices as the previous year has been let’s make the most of it. You know let’s just move forward I think that’s our view. We’re not holding up any crop believe me and plus remember we have contracts with three other associations who have commercial agreements to deliver cane so we have an obligation to them as well.”
BSI said that the hope is to get the matter resolved and an agreement signed to begin the crop in December to avoid running into 2024’s rainy season.