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BSI/ASR seeks way out of impasse over commercial agreement but maintains there will be no renegotiation

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Posted: Friday, August 27, 2021. 3:59 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: “Your guess is as good as mine,” was Communications Director for Belize Sugar Industries Limited (BSI), William Neal’s response to us in a one-on-one press call following news this week that its largest delivery partner, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) has terminated participation in a commercial agreement and wants a renegotiation of terms.

But what Tower Hill does not want, he was sure to add, was a repeat of the disruptions the last crop stoppage occasioned, which ultimately cost $20 million and soured relations.

“Perhaps we could look at some amendments, but the core values of the agreement itself have been there for decades, and they have worked,” Neal said, citing the 65/35 share value in favor of farmers. A delay in the season with the ongoing issues of climate change and COVID-19 among others will not help anyone, he added.

BSCFA as the largest partner has failed even to delineate what changes it is asking for, and the investments ASR/BSI have made in the factory are under threat without their consistent and large supply of cane. After a judicial order, at least three new associations of farmers have been formed but the BSCFA still retains the majority with 50 percent of canero membership.

The BSCFA has its right to ask for renegotiation, said Neal, but BSI also has the right to object.

BSI decided to speak directly to farmers to avoid contention that the Association was not acting on behalf of all members as partners.

The millers take it that a termination means an entirely new agreement, but there is much to recommend in the original.

The termination only affects BSCFA as there is no other association indicating a similar termination.

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