|A recent report by the Oakland Institute documents a fledgling, little-studied trend: Corporations are starting to buy up US farmland, especially in areas dominated by industrial-scale agriculture, like Iowa and California's Central Valley. But the land-grabbing companies aren't agribusinesses like Monsanto and Cargill. Instead, they're financial firms: investment arms of insurance companies, banks, pension funds, and the like. In short, Wall Street spies gold in those fields of greens and grains.
Why are they plowing cash into such an inherently risky business with such seemingly low profit potential? For Wall Street, farmland represents a "reassuringly tangible commodity" with the potential for "solid, if not excellent, returns," the Oakland Institute notes—something clients are hungry for after being recently burned not long ago by credit-default swaps and securities backed by trashy mortgages. As the saying goes, you can't make more land; and as the Oakland Institute notes, "over the last 50 years, the amount of global arable land per capita shrank by roughly 45 percent, and it is expected to continue declining, albeit more moderately, going toward 2050."
Financial institutions and food-strapped countries like China and United Arab Emirates have already been snapping up land in the developing world, where prices are low and labor is cheap. But now, the Oakland Institute reports, pricey US land is also looking attractive, because it "boasts some of the world's most fertile soil, advanced industrial farm technology, strong private property rights, [and] federally subsidized crop insurance."
And Wall Street likes a good bubble. Farmland prices have soared to all-time highs in recent years, pushed up by the government-mandated corn ethanol boom. The average per acre price of Iowa land surged about 60 percent in real terms between 2007 and 2012, and rents have jumped in lockstep.
The report notes that over the next 20 years, nearly half of US farmland—about 400 million acres—will be up for sale as our aging base of farmers moves into retirement. So far, Wall Street cash is moving onto US farms like a stream; financial firms own just about 1 percent of total acreage, and most farmland is still bought by farmers, not institutional investors, the report states. But as more prime land enters the market, the hot money could soon flow like a gusher.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2005—No Rice in 2008
|Given the penchant of Bush Republicans to promote those who fail most spectacularly, it wasn't surprising to see the wignnut-o-phere promoting Condi as their party's top choice for 2008.
I mean, she ignored an intelligence report titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S" in the month leading up to 9-11. That would've ended the career of a lesser mortal, but the woman who called Bush her "husband" gets the benefit of the doub —nay—she gets Republican bloggers pinning for her presidential candidacy.
But alas, Condi is not a politician, as her performance on the 9-11 commission (among other places) showed. She'd get eaten alive in a primary battle by the more experienced politicos. And really, she has no natural constituency inside the Republican Party primary electorate.
She knows all these things, apparently, since she's emphatically saying no to a run.
"I don't have any desire to run for president, I don't intend to, I won't do it," she said on ABC's "This Week." "I don't know how many ways to say 'No.'"
On today's Kagro in the Morning show: Trigger warning: morning chit-chat! Medicare pays $172 million for penis pumps, which John Tyler never needed, and someone's trying to beat Amazon to the punch on drone deliveries. Armando sparked some discussion of controversial new Vox.com hire, and an odd bit about Nate Silver, as well. Turning back to the CIA vs. Senate fight, we're reminded by Ari Melber that the heart of this constitutional crisis isn't actually spying, it's torture. But there's still plenty there for those who prefer the spying hook. Next dot in our connecting exercise: "The Case for Corruption." Finally, one of "3 inconvenient facts that make libertarians' heads explode."