Brazil’s land agency and a state court have determined that pension fund manager TIAA and Harvard University’s endowment fund illegally acquired hundreds of thousands of hectares of farmlands in Brazil’s ecologically sensitive Cerrado region. The positions issued by the country’s federal land agency (the National Institute for Agrarian Reform – INCRA) and the state court of Bahia are detailed in a new report by AATR, Rede Social and GRAIN that also shows how fires are once again ravaging large areas of forests on TIAA and Harvard’s Brazilian farms.
TIAA and Harvard are the largest foreign buyers of farmland in Brazil. Since 2008, they have amassed a combined total of around 750,000 hectares, most of it in the Northeastern part of Brazil, within the country’s biodiverse Cerrado savannah region. During this period, Rede Social, AATR, GRAIN and other organisations have produced numerous investigative reports documenting how TIAA and Harvard’s farmland deals in Brazil are connected to illegal land grabbing, violent displacement of local rural communities, deforestation and other social and environmental harms in the region. Rede Social and GRAIN have also issued reports detailing how TIAA and Harvard have used opaque corporate structures, running through offshore jurisdictions, to conceal and evade Brazilian legislation restricting foreign ownership of farmland.