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Is Demand for Food Creating a Financial Frenzy over Farmland?

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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 Food Chain – A Landscape of Power Struggles (Part 1 of 2)

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Touch the Soil News #364 We perceive the 2016 Presidential Election to be important – because we believe whoever is President will have great power over our future. However, is it possible there are powers as strong as political power? Powers that – in addition to control over food – exert influence on the political system. Is there evidence of this power? Consider what happens when consumers want something better out of the food chain. To get change, people must employ protests, boycotts, letters and smoozing politicians – which can take years even decades to get action. The opposition to positive change is tremendously powerful. Consider how long folks have…

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Synthetic Eggs, Milk & Beef – the “Capital” Tug of War

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Touch the Soil News #231 A theme we’ve identified in the past is the over-capitalization of the financial markets. Said in another way, there are more dollars looking for an investment return than there are investment opportunities. This over-abundance of investment capital is fueled by dollars flowing into pension plans, investment channels and the resurgence of bank growth. When dollars are competing heavily for investments with “profit” potential, we can almost count on economic cannibalism. An investment dollar cares not if its end product or service displaces an existing product or service. The moral of the story is that new investment dollars often look to shove old investment dollars out…

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The $84 trillion Gorilla – How it Jostles Food and Access to Food

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Touch the Soil News #224 Peter Puffin and Freddie Frog team up again with Banker Bob. This time to explore one of the most pervasive influences on modern life and wrestle with questions that may be destined for future public debate. Want More? – Sign up below Special Deals Ahead…Sign up!

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When It Comes to Money – Are Grocery Stores Obliged to Sell Their Souls?

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Touch the Soil News #201 Recently, Whole Foods Market issued a press release announcing a net reduction in jobs of approximately 1,500 employees. Perhaps it is not a big number relative to 91,000 employees, manning 431 stores in 12 regions. The reasons given for the cutbacks include: Keeping prices low for customers Invest in technology upgrades Improving cost structure What does improving cost structure mean? Does it mean store prices, cutting jobs, having money satisfy stockholder demands? Asking these questions is not a criticism of Whole Foods Markets, which has tremendous responsibility to stockholders. Ditto for virtually every other publically owned or privately owned company. (photo courtesy of Raysonho -…

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The Fastest Growing (Small) Food Companies (Part 2 of 2)

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Touch the Soil News #190 Thanks to research from Inc. 5000, we have some insights into the 10 fastest growing food companies and the trends they are setting. These examples, open our minds to lots of opportunities in food and smaller-scale farming. Following are the last 5. Logo courtesy of Deliver Lean Deliver Lean. This company was inspired by the idea that workers are more productive after a fresh, healthy lunch. This Florida meal delivery service grew its revenues 3,000 percent since 2011. http://www.deliverlean.com/googlesummer2014/ Logo courtesy of Kill Cliff Kill Cliff. This company’s vision is to provide functional recovery drinks. The drinks are fortified with B, C, and E vitamins,…

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Will Fossil Fuel Divestment Force Agriculture to Change Dramatically?

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Touch the Soil News # 152 The social pressure, to move civilization beyond fossil fuels is growing by the day. Divestitures of fossil fuel investments are becoming the new way to demonstrate “green.” Fossil fuel divestment is the removal of investment assets including stocks, bonds or other investments in fossil fuel industries. The thought is to reduce carbon emissions and accelerate renewable energy. Driving the popularity of divestments are the physical manifestations of climate change. The fossil fuel divestment movement is no small movement. It is the fastest growing divestment movement in history. HSBC bank – one of the world’s largest – recently reported that international climate change actions could…

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Stalking Farmland Around the Globe

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Touch the Soil News # 150 The flow of money from America’s workforce into investment and retirement accounts has created one of the largest pools of capital ever to assemble itself in the world. Retirement assets alone in the U.S. today exceed $24 trillion. Combine this with wealth accumulation in other parts of society and you have an army of dollars whose appetite for more money far exceeds what the world’s borrowers and workers can deliver. As this phenomenon grows, Investors must look farther and wider for a place to extract a return. Recently, one of the world’s largest retirement and wealth investing companies TIAA-CREF announced its success in attracting billions…

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Food-Chain News Roundup

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Touch the Soil News # 149 Billionaires and Food Vietnam’s only billionaire, Pham Nhat Vuong, through his investment company Vingroup, is putting together a $46.5 million dollar greenhouse food enterprise. Up till now, Vuong has been involved in property development – making agriculture a total departure from his norm. Helping in the project is Israeli company Netafim. Netafim builds out greenhouses and is the world’s leader in drip irrigation products and technology. Vuong represents just one small investor, among a growing flock of investors looking to harness their dollars in food and agriculture. Greenhouse food production near cities attracts billionaire Farmers Open Grocery Store Two Canadian farmers – Simone Rudge…

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Something Fun – Food Ecommerce – Squeezing in Between Grocery Stores and Restaurants

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Touch the Soil News # 147 Appearing on the food landscape in America is a niche way of getting food. It’s formally called Food Ecommerce as its effectiveness is in part hinged on i phones for connecting with customers. It generally follows specialty food preparation – some of it local – and delivered to your house or location. The idea is to get consumers closer to the point of production. Venture capital and private investors, in the first half of 2015, invested over $550 million into individual companies and enterprises that fall into the Food Ecommerce category. In order to differentiate themselves from other food delivery companies, some companies focus…

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