Tuesday, April 19, 2016

China Buying Farmland In Central France

From EurActiv:
A Chinese company has acquired hundreds of hectares of cereal-producing farmland in central France. This unprecedented situation has provoked astonishment and anger in the farming community. EurActiv’s partner Journal de l’Environnement reports.

The reaction of the French National Federation of Land Management and Rural Development Agencies (SAFER) was simple outrage. “It is possible to buy 1,700 hectares of cereal farmland in France unchecked!” the organisation wrote in a press release.

Emmanuel Hyest, the president of SAFER, admitted to the Journal de l’Environnement that he had “no idea” what sort of activity the company undertook in China. A quick search for the Hongyang company online revealed that their usual line of business is equipment for service stations. “It is one of those companies that has had success in other sectors and is looking to diversify its activities,” said Hyest.

Financialisation of agriculture
For investors to buy up agricultural land is in itself nothing new: dozens of French wine chateaux have been bought up in recent years, and not necessarily by investors with knowledge of vineyards or winemaking. “On top of being the first case of its kind involving ‘pure’ farmland, this example is striking because it involves a Chinese company. This ‘financialisation’ of agriculture is a reality in other countries, and is taking hold in France,” the president of SAFER said.

“It is no longer a question of farming: it’s a shop window, with a well-groomed cow on show,” said Christian Berdot, from Friends of the Earth France. “Today, we are dealing with big industrial and financial groups, with interests stretching across all continents. The farmer is the weak link that is forced to absorb pressure from both upstream and downstream.”...MORE
HT Farmlandgrab