The financial industry is in the market for farmland. Over the past decade and a half, major financial institutions have increasingly added farmland to their investment portfolios, and investment funds targeting agricultural properties have proliferated. This unprecedented flow of financial capital into farmland markets could create additional challenges for resource-limited farmers and further complicate the struggle for racial equity in agriculture. The high cost of land is already one of the greatest obstacles facing small farmers, beginning farmers, and farmers of color, and this situation will likely only worsen as they find themselves competing for land with multimillion or billion dollar investment funds.
This research brief describes growing investor presence in the Mississippi Delta, juxtaposing it against the precarious land tenure experienced by many African American farmers in the region. Black farmers face multiple intersecting threats to their land tenure, including the lack of legal protections for the collective landownership form known as heirs’ property and the harmful legacy of government discrimination in farm lending. Policy action is needed to ensure that investor demand does not compound these existing injustices so that a diverse and vibrant small farm sector can thrive across the Southeast.
Fairbairn, Madeline et al. “Selling Out the Delta: Farmland Investment and Small Farmer Land Access in Mississippi.” February 2023. National Family Farm Coalition; Federation of Southern Cooperatives. https://nffc.net/wp-content/uploads/SellingOuttheDelta_FINAL.pdf