China Buys Patagonia
If you have not been to Argentina’s Patagonia, you may want to go soon. The Chinese state-owned agribusiness company Beidahuang is about to purchase up to 800,000 acres (320,00 hectares) of privately owned farmland in the Río Negro province (pictured here, click to expand). The results could boost Chinese diets abroad but harm southern Argentina for decades.
"Chinese and Indian people have been coming to Argentina over the last five years and would be happy to buy all our land, whatever the price. American businesses have been buying access to our water," Barcesat said. "We need our own people to eat well first, and after that we can feed the rest of the world. We want more small and middle-sized owners, we don't like the excessive concentration, and we want farmers who will be careful with the land, not exploit it."
Barcesat is working with Argentina’s federal government to draft legislation that would restrict foreign ownership of land.
The impending deal is evidence that we are only starting now to see the long term results of rapidly increasing food prices coupled with the growing demand for meat, dairy products, and processed foods.
Crass nationalism or justified concern over the environment? What do you think?
Perhaps the Chinese should focus on environmental stewardship in their own country before they start managing land abroad. Considering China’s track record on land management, pollution, and labor rights, Argentinians should be concerned. The potential impact on land, water, and stunning beauty of this region will be huge. While “factory farming” can work if managed effectively, this is one huge transaction that is more than dubious.
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