TIAA (formerly TIAA-CREF) is one of the largest pension funds in the U.S. with a reputation for social responsibility. It is also the largest investor of farmland in the world, with almost 2 million acres of farmland on four continents worth as much as $10 billion. However, TIAA’s farmland deals are causing more harm than it lets on. These deals are driving land grabs, deforestation, and human rights violations, and they’re squeezing out family farmers and rural communities.
The Cost of TIAA’s Farmland Deals
TIAA is buying farmland in countries and in regions where land grabbing and fraud are widespread. Its activities are both contributing to and benefiting from the dispossession of local communities, increasing hunger, and violence. In other regions, TIAA’s presence alone is driving up prices and making it that much harder for family farmers to survive.
TIAA’s farmland deals also come at a heavy ecological cost. They are destroying the environment and contaminating water sources because they promote and spread a plantation model of agriculture that relies heavily on chemical inputs – and they’re doing this in one of the most biodiverse regions of the world, the Brazilian Cerrado.
TIAA has also put its clients’ retirement savings at risk by getting involved in farmland speculation, and they violate their own responsible investment principles.
We have brought these issues to TIAA’s attention on numerous occasions, yet TIAA still refuses to take meaningful action. TIAA is engaged in illegal activities and must be held accountable and follow the law and respect human rights.
- Stop all buying of farmland in Brazil, the U.S., and return lands already acquired in Brazil to impacted communities;
- Meet the demands of community leadership to repair the damage caused by TIAA’s farmland deals to date, including immediately stopping deforestation and the use of chemical pesticides;
- Publicize TIAA’s response to all of its clients.