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Is Harvard University’s Land Grabbing Socially Responsible?

Touch the Soil News #1194 (Feature photo – Cuyama Valley, California – CCA SA 3.0 Unported) In a rather shocking revelation, the Wall Street Journal reports that Harvard University is quietly buying California farmland and water rights. The implication is that Harvard is speculating on the scarcity that climate change will have on farmland and water. Owning the land and water allows an investor to hold a hungry humanity hostage to their prices. Harvard is paying prices for land that farmers cannot compete with in the Cuyama Valley in southern California. You can read the full story here: https://www.farmlandgrab.org/post/view/28626-harvard-quietly-amasses-california-vineyardsand-the-water-underneath As of 2017, the Harvard University endowment fund was valued at…

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Landgrabs in Africa

Touch the Soil News #1186 (Feature photo – Zambia Coat of Arms – Public Domain) From the U.S east coast – about 3,200 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, is the continent of Africa. The concept of land grabbing has become an international issue. Agricultural corporations, often with the assistance large foreign investors and banks, take over land farmed and occupied by indigenous peoples for generations. The threat to landownership, legal rights and prosperity for millions of indigenous people does not come in the form of armies or foreign invasions, but organized capital that enjoins corrupt local officials. Recently, one of the first in-depth documentaries has come forth about the abuses…

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Big Bank – Called on Carpet for Agricultural Loan

Touch the Soil News #1149 (Feature photo – ANZ Bank Headquarters in Australia – Public Domain) ANZ Bank (Australia New Zealand Bank) is a large global bank with operations not only in Australia, but 32 other nations. With roughly 640 billion in assets and 44 thousand full-time equivalent employees, the bank has been identified and criticized for making a $40 million loan to Phnom Penh Sugar in Cambodia back in 2011. Many media sources have criticized the action over the years and the bank has finally been investigated and criticized. The Australian government has called out ANZ bank for financing an enterprise (Phnom Penh Sugar) that is known to illegally…

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When a President is Encouraged to Stand With his People

Touch the Soil News #875 (Feature photo –Macky Sall, President of Senegal – CCA SA 3.0 Unported) The stories are sad, but number in the dozens every year around the world including Africa. The story line is always similar: Indigenous people – who have farmed the same land for generations – are displaced by large agro-businesses. People die, are injured and villages burned. The stories are so tragic that we have refrained from reporting on them as the violence is often disheartening. In the broader world it is called land grabbing. Only this time, in Senegal, the story is not about local officials and local police selling their people out.…

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Owning Land (some of it farmland) – Russian Answer to Wealth and Power

Touch the Soil News #682 If you are relatives of the Secretary of Agriculture in Russia, you can list yourself as one of the largest landowners in Russia and the world. According to a news group called “Crime Russia” immediate relatives of Russian Secretary of Agriculture – Aleksander Tkachev – increased their land holdings in 2016 by 455,000 acres. Organized under a company called Agrocomplex, this brings their total holdings to 1,580,800 acres and puts them in the #4 spot in terms of land holdings in Russia. The “Crime Russia” news piece identified the top six landholders in Russia: The Prodemiks Group – 1,951,300 acres The Rusagro Group – 1,654,900…

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The World’s Biggest Land Fight of All Time

Touch the Soil News #523 Emotions are building over ownership of the world’s largest cattle ranch in Australia. The operation contains 10 large parcels of ranching properties across Australia totaling some 25 million acres (1.3 percent of the Australian continent. Currently the operation is owned by S. Kidman and Company, which a few months back reached a sale agreement with a Ms. Rhinehart (a wealthy Australian and owner of Hancock Mining) and a group of Chinese investors. This group is referred to as AOB. The Kidman ranch would be owned 2/3 by Rhinehart and 1/3 by the Chinese investors. The AOB offer is for $276 million. The snag in the…

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Community Land Rights (food) – The Global Powder Keg (Part 2 of 2)

Touch the Soil News #424 (Feature photo courtesy of HELVETAS) While much of the land rights issues and violations are taking place in third world countries, giving voices to indigenous people and their cause is coming from powerful first-world social activist organizations. Following is information on the five (5) international non-profits who are organizing the first International Community Land Rights conference in Stockholm in 2017. The Rights and Resources Initiative. This organization is a global coalition of 13 core partner organization and 150 collaborator organizations directly engaged in land and forest policy reforms (This organization carries material international clout). International Land Coalition. This organization is a coalition of 152 organizations…

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