Source: Oakland Institute
By: Anuradha Mittal
Is the 2015 “Iowa Agriculture Summit” really a bi-partisan forum to promote agriculture, or yet another scheme devised by multi-millionaire Iowan Bruce Rastetter to hijack issues impacting farmers and agriculture for his self-serving political and economic agenda?
In 2011, Bruce Rastetter, as the CEO of AgriSol, acquired over 800,000 acres of land – supposedly three “abandoned refugee camps” – to set up an agriculture enterprise in Tanzania with plans for industrial-scale crop cultivation, livestock, and agrofuel production. The deal was negotiated with top Tanzanian leadership, including the Prime Minister of Tanzania.
With promises of wealth and development, the deal required changes in Tanzania’s regulations on cultivation of GM crops; “Strategic Investor Status” granting financial incentives; reduction in profit taxes; and for the construction of rail infrastructure.
But most egregious was the fact, as exposed by the Oakland Institute, that the project would have displaced over 162,000 small-holder farmers — Burundian refugees who had made that land their home for over 40 years. The Tanzanian government was promising citizenship to these refugees, contingent on them abandoning their homes and livelihoods so Rastetter could take over their lands, all for the unbelievable price of around 22-23 cents/acre.