Why investments in Latin America farmland are now ‘like gold’

by Dave

For HNWI and pension funds, people with long-term horizons, investments in this asset class are a no-brainer.
via Investment News

“We don’t have enough” farmland, Jose Minaya said of TIAA-CREF, [the U.S. pension fund] on the sidelines of Terrapinn’s Agriculture Outlook conference in London. TIAA-CREF, which manages about $417 billion in pension funds and is based in New York, expects its portfolio of agricultural property to generate absolute returns of between 8 percent and 12 percent, he said.

Global agriculture output must rise 70 percent by 2050 as the world population swells, boosting demand for farmland, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization has said. By mid-century, planted acreage may need to expand 16 percent, provided historic trends in yield increases don’t change, according to a study sponsored by companies including Monsanto Co. and published in March.

“We’re actively in the market, still growing our portfolio,” Minaya said. “We’re seeing opportunities, but it’s very hard to scale up in this asset class.” Agricultural land has “low to little correlation” with other asset classes, helping to diversify the investment portfolio, he said. It also provides a hedge against inflation, according to Minaya. “Farmland is also a store of wealth,” Minaya said. “It’s kind of like gold. ”TIAA-CREF owns agricultural land in the U.S., Australia, Brazil and central and Eastern Europe, most of which is leased out, Minaya said. U.S. real estate represents its largest farmland holding, he said. The pension-fund manager also has about $1.5 billion of timberland, according to Minaya.

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