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Another Billion Dollar Farm and Food Investment

Touch the Soil News #838 (Feature photo – Saudi Coat of Arms) Unlike the economics of the past as envisioned by the World Trade Organization (WTO) – fostering global trade often for the benefit of the big traders, a newer form of trade – if you will – is festering. It is trade designed specifically for food security of specific nations. Saudi Arabia (population 33 million) and the United Arab Emirates (population 9.5 million) are working together to secure food from other nations specifically for export to their nations. The two nations just announced they are creating a special financial pool of $1.3 billion dollars to buy farmland, logistics and…

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Farmland Grab – It’s Heating Up

Touch the Soil News #824 (Feature photo Ben Gisin) Farmland Grab is a concept that emerged out of a global food crisis in 2008. At that time, certain foods became short, prices skyrocketed and nations who could not raise all their food, experienced political and social unrest. This caused a number of nations to lose confidence in the global food trade as it provided no assurance of supply. In fact, years of good supply result in price collapses for farmers which can foreshadow domino-effect shortages as farmers retract. One of the world’s largest agricultural nations is Australia. Australia has experienced huge sales of agricultural land to foreigners. Australians have demanded…

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Sobering

Touch the Soil News #805 (Feature photo – The National Congress Building of Brazil – a government unable to exert sufficient control over exploitation of the indigenous people in rural areas – copyright free) Far away in the rainforests and hinterlands of Brazil, agribusinesses and big finance can be found plundering the environment and the indigenous folks who live there.­­­ Recently, a delegation of 30 human rights, development and rural experts collaborated in an unprecedented visit (investigation) to the Brazilian hinterlands. The goal was to uncover rumors of gross misconduct towards indigenous folks from large soybean farm enterprises. See the report summary here: http://www.fian.org/en/news/article/caravana_matopiba_uncovers_alarming_human_and_environmental_costs_of_agribusiness/ The investigation was an international fact…

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Nut Trees – Increasingly Desirable Agricultural Assets

Touch the Soil News #757 (feature photo – Pastachio nuts on the tree – Paolo Galli CC SA 3.0) When the health and nutrition community recognizes certain foods as healthier or health supporting, chances are the financial investments in those commodities will follow. Case in point. Gladstone Land is a company whose business model is based upon owning agricultural land in that produces fruit, vegetables and nuts – no livestock, corn, soybeans or hay. It is not an accident that Gladstone follows land that produces foods most important to health. Nuts are a rising star as relates to healthy eating and Gladstone Land just announced (7/17/2017) that it has purchased…

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Africa’s Richest Man – To Be World’s Largest Farmer?

Touch the Soil News #751 (feature photo – Aliko Dangote – photo courtesy of the World Economic Forum CC SA 2.0) In the U.S. today, when farmers look to buy land to expand, they generally buy a retiring neighbor’s farm. Mostly they are parcels of a few hundred acres. A one (1) thousand acre parcel would be considered large purchase. The largest farms in America are in the 20,000 to 40,000 acre range with a few that can be larger. Expanding his stake in the farming scene is African billionaire Aliko Dangote (age 60). Forbes estimates that Dangote has an estimated net worth of $12.5 billion, which puts him within…

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Is Santos Selling Out his People?

Touch the Soil News #716 (feature photo – Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos – CC SA 3.0 Brazil) Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos is leading his country into what could well be the largest farmland transaction in human history. Santos has been accused of leading one of the most corrupt regimes in Africa by ignoring the economic and social needs of Angola. Santos is also accused of focusing his efforts on amassing wealth for his family and silencing his opposition. While Santos occupies the Presidency of Angola, corrupt regimes usually engage many people who have simply learned and adopted corruption from their predecessors. Angola sits along the West…

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Billion Dollar Checkbooks Still Buying Farmland

Touch the Soil News #705 (feature photo – Ethiopian women picking beans – source, Executive office of the President of the U.S. 2005) The Australian Government recently released the latest statistics about who is buying Australian Farmland. As of the 2015-2016 farming year, foreign investment in Australian farmland hit $4.6 billion, up from $2.5 billion the year before. It is interesting to see where the foreign buyers were coming from. The top four buyers were: American investors bought $1.3 billion in Australian farmland Chinese investors bought $996 million in Australian farmland U.K investors bought $338 million in Australian farmland Canadian investors bought $240 million in Australian farmland   So how…

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Are Pension Funds Driving Food and Social Disorder?

Touch the Soil News #678 (feature photo – protestors at TIAA, New York -Brandon Wu, ActionAid) TIAA, one of the world’s largest pension fund companies is trying to find an investment home for almost $900 billion dollars. Popularly known as the “teacher” pension company, TIAA is being accused of keeping its books closed to outsiders on its farmland investments. Last week (April 20, 2017) protestors outside of TIAA’s New York Offices delivered a letter to the company with over 100,000 signatures. TIAA is being accused of financing farm acquisitions in third-world nations (such as Brazil). Allegations are that the farmlands being purchased by TIAA were taken by local officials who…

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The Cyclops of Farms Rears Its Head

Touch the Soil News #538 (feature photo a Cyclops statue in the Natural History Museum of London by Deror Avi) It is difficult to grasp the magnitude of a secretive farm project for which details are often lacking. The size, scope and potential disruption of this project brings to mind the Cyclops of antiquity. The project between the governments of Japan, Brazil and Mozambique – called the ProSavane – has been in the works since 2011. The project plans to mimic a large project in Brazil in which Brazilian agribusinesses will replicate industrial mono-culture farming in Mozambique. Mozambique is one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries in the world…

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Chinese Investors Pursue Food of the Gods (Chocolate)

Touch the Soil News #508 (Feature Photo – Aztec sculpture with cocoa pod) The cocoa bean (or cacao bean) grows on the trunks of the cacao tree. It grows in tropical zones and is processed after harvesting to make cocoa solids and cocoa butter – the basis of chocolate. The cacao tree is native to the Americas and has been cultivated for its bean for almost 5,000 years. Today, 75 percent of the cacao beans are produced in Africa, 15 percent in the Americas and about 10 percent in Oceania. Cocoa beans drying in the sun (photo courtesy of Irene Scott/AusAID). In order to assure a reliable supply of this…

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