104,481 and Counting: Calling on TIAA to Stop Investing in Land Grabs

April 21, 2017

Imagine for a moment that you’re in New York City on a breezy afternoon. You’re hurrying down the street to grab lunch, when you suddenly come across a cardboard bulldozer, a group of people holding signs, and a human-sized orangutan. What would you do?

Perhaps you’d do a double-take and keep walking. Perhaps you’d stop and see what’s going on. Or perhaps you wouldn’t even notice because you were on your phone. I saw all of these reactions on Thursday as I joined my colleagues to deliver our letter to TIAA, one of the largest investors in farmland globally and the retirement company of which ActionAid USA is a


Is Your Pension Fund Grabbing Farmland and Violating People’s Rights?

October 31, 2016

Biofuels have a new booster: your pension and retirement fund. Retirement funds are buying millions of acres of farmland in the United States, Brazil, Australia, and elsewhere, citing the world’s growing need for food and raw materials. But these retirement funds aren’t interested in supporting small, family farms or local food systems. They want to make money, and that means expanding large-scale, monocrop agribusiness and industrial biofuels.

The retirement fund TIAA (formerly TIAA-CREF) – which manages the retirements of millions of teachers, professors, and school administrators – is the largest institutional


Pension Funds Are Trying to Control Our Food Supply – with Our Money

April 20, 2017

Right now, some of the world’s biggest financial firms are meeting to discuss how to turn farming into a financial product. Farmland, in particular, has been described as being like “gold with yield.”

Since the 2008 financial crisis, big investors have seen acquiring farmland as a safe bet to hedge their investments. Hedge funds, banks, and pension funds are buying farms outright. The pension fund TIAA, which is one of the main sponsors of this week’s Global AgInvesting Conference, actually owns over 1.5


I’m Alarmed at How TIAA Is Investing My Retirement Funds

November 14, 2016

As a person whose work-life as a teacher and as a public policy analyst has been grounded in anthropology, I am very alarmed at the way in which my retirement funds are being used by the investment firm TIAA (formerly Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association—College Retirement Equities Fund) to undermine rural communities in the United States and many other countries through land speculation and land-grabbing.

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