The wolves of Wall Street are eyeing millions of acres of U.S. farmland that will soon come up for sale, much of which has been in the hands of family farmers for generations, according to Down on the Farm, a new study from the Oakland Institute.
"Institutional investors"--including hedge funds, private equity,
pension funds, and university endowments--have trained their sights on
America's agricultural infrastructure," said Lukas Ross, an Oakland
Institute Fellow and author of the report.
"If they succeed in consolidating control over our land and
infrastructure, this new class of land barons could imperil our nation's
Investors are increasingly interested in capitalizing on the run-up
in the value of private-equity assets. So they're lining up to purchase
some 400 million acres that will become available over the next two
decades. That's half of all U.S. farmland.
These would-be owners see $1.8 trillion in land that could be
exploited for industrial farming as well as fracking and fossil-fuel
production. But their pursuit of a quick buck is driving land prices up,
imperils farmers' economic future, the viability of the farm and rural
economy, and jeopardizes the long-term health of the land.
Relying on material from the Freedom of Information Act, the report
exposes shocking details of unsafe and environmentally irresponsible
practices of absentee investor-owners--as well as legal battles over
major labor violations.
Down on the Farm
also profiles several farmers who are struggling to get or hold onto
land of their own, thanks in part to the Wall Street-driven run-up in
Initiatives like the Agrarian Trust and California FarmLink are
providing critical support to U.S. farmers. But more must be done.
"We must act to ensure that farmers--not non-operational owners with
decidedly less noble intentions--remain in control of our nation's
farmland," said Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland
Institute. "If we don't, America's agricultural heritage--not to mention
our ability to produce enough food to feed our people--could
From Oakland Institute here