The global farmland grab goes green

May 2021

Companies in the business of selling farmland to billionaires and pension funds are peddling it as a green, sustainable and socially responsible investment. This propaganda is working. The digital land records and massive quantities of data that big tech companies like Microsoft and Amazon are vacuuming up from farmers’ fields make it easier for the companies to scour the planet for profitable farmland deals. They can also use satellite technologies and drones to monitor their farms from a distance. But the world’s farmland is finite. So, as corporations inhabit more of it, the less there is for small farmers, indigenous peoples and rural communities. Small farms have greater biodiversity and tree cover. They feed their communities with healthy foods. They generate and distribute wealth locally and fairly and build dynamic communities. They can and often do practice agroecology without fossil fuels or chemical inputs. Those who presently control the world’s financial flows are not capable of supporting the food producers and food systems that can deal with the climate crisis or the many other crises afflicting food and agriculture. Our challenge is to get both farmland and money out of their hands, as fast as we can.