Planters group enjoins members to allow passage of cane trucks
The VICMICO Planters Association enjoins its planter-members to allow cane trucks and emergency vehicles to pass through their farms, even though Victorias Milling Company (VMC) continues to close the main and most accessible road leading to competitor mills.
“Last week, some sugar farmers complained that some farm owners denied passage of cane trucks through their farms. Apparently, these road closures were the reactions of affected cane farmers to the oppressive closure by VMC of access roads, which have been traditionally used by cane farmers since the establishment of the mill more than 100 years ago,” said Aurelio “Bodie” Valderrama, Jr.
Valderrama is the president of the VICMICO Planters Association. He is also the newly-elected national president of the Confederation of Sugarcane Farmers (CONFED), one of the largest sugarcane farmers federation in the country.
It can be recalled that, in the guise of road repairs, VMC recently denied passage to trucks hauling the canes of VICMICO Planters Association members, as well as the cane trucks of famers who do not mill with VMC. However, VMC allows the passage of cane trucks of other farmers who mill at VMC.
This unwarranted act by VMC did not sit well with affected farmers, because it resulted to increased fuel costs, delays and deterioration of canes. They condemned this act of VMC, since it was done at a time when the country needs to increase its sugar production to ease the sugar shortage, and at a time when the sugar industry needs to lower its production cost to lower the prevailing high retail price of sugar.
Displeased with VMC’s unjust act, some affected farmers also closed the private roads passing through their farms.
Consequently, other farmers who have been using those access roads were affected. Their concerns reached the officers of the VICMICO Planters Association, and the officers immediately called for a meeting to address the problem.
“We are burdened by VMC’s closure of the roads which we have been traditionally using. Thus, we understand the situation of our fellow farmers affected by the closure of roads passing through private farms, some of which are owned by our members. We sympathize with these affected farmers, particularly the agrarian reform beneficiaries who can’t afford additional hauling costs,” explained Valderrama.
“We must help our fellow farmers in lowering their production costs, particularly hauling cost. In behalf of our association officers, I enjoin you to please open the concerned private roads, and allow the passage of cane trucks and emergency vehicles through your farms, even though VMC still continues to deny our trucks passage through the mill’s roads,” Valderrama appealed to the members of VICMICO Planters Association.
Normally, sugar mills compete with other mills in offering incentives and assistance to convince farmers to send their canes to a particular mill. While other mills go out of their way to assist farmers, VMC is seemingly hell-bent on imposing additional burden on sugarcane farmers, who are members of the VICMICO Planters Association.
Since September 2021, the association opted to send their canes to mills other than VMC, after VMC refused to recognize the association and accept the canes of its members, due to unresolved issues of transparency, such as the mill’s prohibition on the presence of the association’s representative inside the mill, the question on planters’ share of the bagasse used by the mill for cogeneration of electric power, and unfairly imposed penalties and interest charges against the farmers.* (PPR/ndb)