Activists and clients tell TIAA to stop investments linked to deforestation and displacement of local farmers

April 21, 2017

NEW YORK, NY – On Thursday a coalition of environmental, human rights and family farm organizations delivered a letter with more than 100,000 signatures to pension fund management company TIAA, expressing concerns over the company’s investments in farmland and palm oil.

The organizations are demanding that TIAA disclose the locations of its farms and its investments in destructive palm oil companies, and that these investments be stopped.

TIAA is one of the largest global investors in farmland, with more than 1.5 million acres in the United States and around the world worth $8 billion under


Part 1: TIAA’s “sustainability reports” can’t paper over the impacts of land grabbing

With a client base surpassing 5 million people, TIAA is one of the largest retirement funds in the world. What most of us don’t realize is that TIAA is also the largest owner of farmland in the world – and it’s getting bigger.

As a TIAA client who grew up in farming, I am angry about this. TIAA knows that taking ownership of farms away from families and communities isn’t going to be popular. That’s why they prepare a “sustainability report” each year to try to soothe any concerns that might emerge among their clients who are unlikely to look too closely at the details.


Part 2: TIAA’s farms up close

Champaign County is the home of the University of Illinois and some of the richest farmland in the world. It is also home to Westchester Farm Services, the TIAA subsidiary that manages most of their farmland in the United States.

Tracking down Westchester staff proved quite difficult. Prior to my visit, I asked to meet with them to learn about their farming practices and was informed that everyone had pretty much left for the winter.


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Stopping Colleges’ Land Grabs: Farmers and Faculties Unite

Grassroots International is supporting our partner The Social Network for Justice and Human Rights (Rede Social) and our allies like GRAIN in a global campaign to stop violent and illegal land grabs at their source: the massive financial investments of pension funds and college endowments.


The Cerrado of Brazil is the most biodiverse savannah on Earth; its mosaic of high plateaus and lowlands hold 5% of the planet’s species. Over 10,000