Money from pension funds has fuelled the financial sector’s massive move into farmland investing over the past decade. The number of pension funds involved in farmland investment and the amount of money they are deploying into it is increasing, under the radar. This unprecedented take-over of farmland by financial companies has major implications for rural communities and food systems, and must be challenged. Leaving it to the companies to police themselves with their own voluntary guidelines is a recipe for disaster.
Back in 2011, at the height of the scramble for farmland around the world, GRAIN released a report on pension funds.1 We wanted to highlight the involvement of pension funds in this rush for farmland, not only because they were one of the main sources of funding for companies acquiring large areas of farmland but also because of the opportunities they provide for action. Pension fund managers, who handle massive amounts of money (see Graphic 1)2, are supposed to be accountable to the workers whose retirement savings they manage, making them, we hoped, more susceptible to social pressure than other farmland grabbers.