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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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What Can Be Done About the 90 million Acres?

Touch the Soil News #505 In the global rush to own farmland, Oxfam recently reported that more than 1,500 land deals sought over the last 16 years now have contracts and their intended projects are getting up and running. The problem is that these land deals cover about 90 million acres and up to 59 percent of the land is claimed by indigenous peoples. Tractors, bulldozers and corrupt local officials are pushing these indigenous people off the land and often into desperation. Local people in East Africa perform a drama illustrating the perils facing many Africans due to foreign land grabs aided by corrupt local officials (photo courtesy of Oxfam).…

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Who Is Interested in “Cherry” Picking Farmland?

Touch the Soil News #493 (feature photo – ripe almond nuts CC 2.5) If your contacts are many and people know you are in the business, you can create an agricultural empire by buying good farms. That seems to be the strategy of Gladstone Land Corporation. This Wall-Street investment company – focused on owning productive farmland – was organized in January of 2013. Gladstone made news recently when it acquired two large California almond farms totaling 2,485 acres. The purchase price of $27.5 million represents about $11,000 per acre. The farms are located in Stanislaus County – in the central heart of California. Stanislaus County’s economy is primary agricultural with…

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Is Demand for Food Creating a Financial Frenzy over Farmland?

Touch the Soil News #484 (feature photo cc-by-sa-2.0) In 2008, while the focus was on the unfolding real estate crisis, another crisis was simultaneously unfolding. Through price shocks on basic grains, about 100 million people (bringing the total to over 900 million) were relegated to the ranks of the hungry almost overnight. Today, with the multitude of global trade agreements in place, one thing about the future cost of food is certain – food will go to the highest bidder in the world. There were shortages of wheat in 2008 in the U.S., as higher international bidders cleaned out the nation’s stocks. The volume of investor dollars looking for farmland,…

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The Stakes in Berry Farms Are Getting Higher

Touch the Soil News #461 Many of our parents and grandparents were used to going out in the country and picking berries right off the farm – it was called u-pick. Today, many home gardeners still plant berries and enjoy them off the vine. As an industrial agricultural crop, berries represent a huge capital investment in terms of land, labor, chemicals, fertilizers, harvest and cold storage. The highly perishable nature of berries represents a costly undertaking in terms of transport, extending shelf life and risk of spoilage. The point of this discussion is that berry production requires large amounts of capital – and that’s where Wall Street comes in. While…

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European Union – Our Farm is Not Big Enough

Touch the Soil News #453 Many nations around the world (and some continents) do not have enough farmland to feed themselves. So whether they import food or try to own farmland overseas, the realization is the same – the homeland farm is not big enough. Friends of the Earth (Europe) recently released a watershed report: The True Cost of Consumption – The EU’s Land Footprint. They wanted to know how much farmland the European Union is short of when it comes to providing food for all of its citizens. Cover of the report. The True Cost of Consumption – The EU’s Land Footprint is the first of its kind in…

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Two Interesting Food Production Transactions

Touch the Soil News #432 “We have built our farmland portfolio based on the idea that the product section of the grocery store is a good place to base our business. Returns on fruits, vegetables and nuts have been growing at a stronger pace than other areas of the food sector, and we believe that trend will continue.” David Gladstone – CEO, Gladstone Land Corporation – owning 24,000 acres of farmland    “One of our primary goals is to align ourselves with top-quality operators in various parts of the United States in an effort to build a diverse portfolio of agricultural assets across the spectrum of crops.” Farmland Partners –…

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