Reuters is reporting that, according to their sources, the CPP Investment Board (CPPIB) has started to get out of investments in farmland both within Canada and internationally.
The problem, it appears, began in Saskatchewan. The CPPIB bought over 100,000 acres in the province and was looking to buy more. This didn’t sit well with local farmers, who felt that the Canadian government, via the CPP, should not be in the business of speculating on farmland and driving up prices. The provincial government pushed back and actually banned sales of farmland to some institutional investors. The CPPIB reviewed their plans and decided to start getting out of farmland speculation not just in Canada but worldwide, where they were in the process of building up a sizable portfolio.
Pension funds and sovereign wealth funds around the world, representing over $2 Trillion dollars of investment capital, naturally see farmland and agricultural related industries as a relatively safe harbor for investments due to the projected need for humans to continue eating food in the future. The CPPIB will continue to invest in agri-business, such as their $2.5 billion investment in Glencore Plc in 2016. Other national pension schemes are reportedly still investing in farmland, but they can count CPPIB out of the game.
Whether this move will lower prices of farmland in Saskatchewan remains to be seen.