Wall Street Sodbusters

Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower Author, Commentator, America’s Number One Populist

I love the names: Bobcat Farm, Golden Eagle Ranch, Long Prairie, Ten Mile Farm. They conjure up Americana, the old homestead, and our rich rural culture.

Less bucolic, however, is the fact that all those farms are part of a massive Wall Street investment scheme called Farmland Partners Inc. It’s run by a couple of slicks trained in mergers and acquisitions as executives at the investment powerhouse Merrill Lynch.

Rather than sodbusters, Farmland Partners are taxbusters. They’re using a legalistic plow called the Real Estate Investment Trust, or REIT, to get enormous tax breaks to subsidize their scheme.

With this special subsidy, the partners have attracted hundreds of millions of dollars from investors to buy up farms and ranches. They now own 295 farm properties covering 144,000 acres in 16 states.

Of course, the Wall Street plowboys don’t soil their own soft hands by actually farming. No, no — the syndicate hires tenant farmers to do the sweaty work of plowing, planting, and nurturing the crops.

This tenant system produces a double-line cash flow for the faraway owners. Farmland Partners charges the tenants rent for tilling the corporate soil, then they harvest a sweet share of any profits from the sale of crops the tenants produce.

Meanwhile, the young farmers America desperately needs — those who actually want to, you know, farm — are having a hard time finding affordable land to get started. This new generation of farmers can easily be out-bid for good land by Wall Street speculators who have the cash flow from tenants and the subsidy from taxpayers to underwrite their financial contrivance.

To prevent the money schemers from literally walling off young farmers, and to fight this insidious Wall Street takeover of agriculture, connect with www.YoungFarmers.org.

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Reposted from Our Future.

National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be – consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks. Twice elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Hightower believes that the true political spectrum is not right to left but top to bottom, and he has become a leading national voice for the 80 percent of the public who no longer find themselves within shouting distance of the Washington and Wall Street powers at the top. He publishes a populist political newsletter, “The Hightower Lowdown.” He is a New York Times best-selling author, and has written seven books including, Thieves In High Places: They’ve Stolen Our Country And It’s Time To Take It Back; If the Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates; and There’s Nothing In the Middle Of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos. His newspaper column is distributed nationally by Creators Syndicate.

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Jim Hightower

Union Matters

An Invitation to Sunny Miami. What Could Be Bad?

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

If a billionaire “invites” you somewhere, you’d better go. Or be prepared to suffer the consequences. This past May, hedge fund kingpin Carl Icahn announced in a letter to his New York-based staff of about 50 that he would be moving his business operations to Florida. But the 83-year-old Icahn assured his staffers they had no reason to worry: “My employees have always been very important to the company, so I’d like to invite you all to join me in Miami.” Those who go south, his letter added, would get a $50,000 relocation benefit “once you have established your permanent residence in Florida.” Those who stay put, the letter continued, can file for state unemployment benefits, a $450 weekly maximum that “you can receive for a total of 26 weeks.” What about severance from Icahn Enterprises? The New York Post reported last week that the two dozen employees who have chosen not to uproot their families and follow Icahn to Florida “will be let go without any severance” when the billionaire shutters his New York offices this coming March. Bloomberg currently puts Carl Icahn’s net worth at $20.5 billion.

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Health Care Should Not Be A Bargaining Weapon

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