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  • Title: Futuregrowth Sows Investment into Africa | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Futuregrowth Sows Investment into Africa.. July 31, 2012.. Source:.. Business Report.. View Original.. Mike Cohen.. FUTUREGROWTH Asset Management, a unit of Old Mutual that oversees R110 billion in fixed income investments, is buying farms in Africa to benefit from surging food prices.. Futuregrowth’s United Farmers’ Fund has spent R450 million buying nine fruit and vegetable farms in South Africa since December 2010.. It was considering investing in a cattle ranch in Botswana, a coffee plantation in Ethiopia and fruit and vegetable farms in Burkina Faso, Morocco and Senegal, said Duncan Vink, a managing director at the fund.. “There is a big pipeline coming” with the fund planning to grow its assets to about $500m (R4.. 1bn), Vink said last week.. “The investment thesis is there.. There will be increasing food scarcity long term, a growing worldwide population.. ”.. Maize surged to a record $8 a bushel (R2 580 a ton) in Chicago last week as the worst drought in 50 years scorched crops in the US, the largest grower, increasing concerns about grain shortages.. World demand will total 878 million tons this year, more than the expected harvest  ...   about food security and rising grain prices.. About 45 million hectares of farmland were leased in the two years to 2009, compared with an average pre-2008 rate of 4 million hectares a year, the World Bank said in a September 2010 report.. More than 70 percent of the deals were in Africa, most of them in Sudan, Mozambique, Liberia, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Madagascar.. The sales of large tracts of land to foreigners has sparked protests in Madagascar and accusations from advocacy groups such as the Oakland Institute in California that African communities are inadequately consulted and are being forcibly evicted to make way for investors.. “We do fairly small and intensive farming,” said Vink, whose fund re-insures its projects with the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.. “It’s not large tracts of land.. Governments in most countries we engage with are very open to investment.. ” – Bloomberg.. Contact.. the oakland institute.. P.. O.. Box 18978.. Oakland, CA 94619.. info@oaklandinstitute.. org.. Donate.. Your tax-deductible donation allows us to conduct independent research, analysis, and advocacy to facilitate democratic participation in critical policy decisions that affect our quality of life..

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  • Title: Old Mutual’s Futuregrowth Buys Farms As Food Prices Rise | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Old Mutual’s Futuregrowth Buys Farms As Food Prices Rise.. July 29, 2012.. Bloomberg.. Futuregrowth Asset Management, a unit of insurer.. Old Mutual Plc (OML).. that oversees 110 billion rand ($13.. 3 billion) in fixed income investments, is buying farms in.. Africa.. to benefit from surging food prices.. Futuregrowth’s United Farmers’ Fund has spent 450 million rand buying nine fruit and vegetable farms in South Africa since December 2010.. It’s now considering investing in a cattle ranch in Botswana, a coffee plantation in Ethiopia and fruit and vegetable farms in.. Burkina Faso.. , Morocco and Senegal, according to Duncan Vink, one of the fund’s founders and managing directors.. “There is a big pipeline coming,” with the fund planning to grow its assets to about $500 million, Vink said in an interview in Cape Town on July 25.. There will be increasing food scarcity long-term, a growing worldwide population.. Corn surged to a record $8 a bushel in Chicago on July 23 as the worst drought in  ...   ’s annual inflation rate, which was 5.. Tracking Asia.. Futuregrowth’s move to acquire agricultural land in Africa tracks an investment push led by China, India, Malaysia and Indonesia that’s being driven by concerns about.. food security.. and rising grain prices.. About 45 million hectares (111 million acres) of farmland were leased in the two years through 2009, compared with an average pre-2008 rate of 4 million hectares a year, the World Bank said in a September 2010 report.. More than 70 percent of the deals were in Africa, most of them in Sudan,.. Mozambique.. ,.. Liberia.. , Ethiopia, Nigeria and Madagascar.. The sales of large tracts of land to foreigners has sparked protests in Madagascar and accusations from advocacy groups such as the California-based Oakland Institute that African communities are inadequately consulted and are being forcibly evicted to make way for investors.. “We do fairly small and intensive farming,” said Vink, whose fund re-insures its projects with the.. World Bank.. ’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency..

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  • Title: Seven Years of Shifting Sands: South Sudan's Government Must Make the Change | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Seven Years of Shifting Sands: South Sudan s Government Must Make the Change.. July 24, 2012.. Open Democracy.. Dr.. Pamela L.. Lomoro.. In seven years of independent control, South Sudan has not diversified its economy.. Now the domestic agricultural sector languishes and international agri-businesses procure land for export markets.. This failure could fuel conflict, if real change is not made.. A year ago amid great jubilation South Sudan became an independent nation.. That 98% of the population voted for separation from Sudan is stark evidence of the citizenry’s strong desire to rid themselves of Khartoum’s centuries of inflicted poverty, oppression and marginalisation.. Much has been written in the media about the challenges and achievements of the past year since independence.. This piece is a response to.. one such article.. by Mr Aggrey Tisa Sabuni, an advisor to the government of South Sudan.. Mr Sabuni’s article is aptly titled 'South Sudan: building the foundation of the world’s newest nation'.. Indeed South Sudan is at the foundation level of development.. Every good building must begin with a solid foundation, the fundamentals of which are a good plan, identification of appropriate resources and sound management.. In all of these requirements South Sudan has failed: it appears to have set its foundations on sand, which shifts and washes away with every rising storm.. The challenges have undoubtedly been enormous for a country that is starting from ground zero.. Mr Sabuni has enumerated some of these challenges accordingly but in my opinion he has failed categorically to provide convincing evidence of achievements.. Instead, like most government mouthpieces, his article labours over sweeping statements about general plans and the determination to build long term prosperity.. The government of South Sudan’s decision to shut down oil production remains controversial.. Clearly, this decision was carried out without strategic analysis of the consequences and clear alternative plans as disclosed in a recent cringe-worthy report by the World Bank.. It was an emotive, hasty and irrational decision that has seen South Sudan now finding itself between a rock and a hard place, having found no means of financing an alternative pipeline to transport its oil to the market.. So what does the government do? It offers a $3.. 2 billion compensation package and $4.. 9 billion worth of debt relief to woo Khartoum back into the fold.. It would appear then, that the country has gone full circle while needlessly exacerbating the level of poverty among its people who have not even begun to reap the peace dividend.. The world food programme warns that 4-7 million people face food insecurity in South Sudan.. For a country whose economy relies so heavily on its oil, South Sudan has failed miserably over the past 7 year since the signing of the CPA to diversify this economy.. Mr Sabuni’s claim of a rise in non-oil revenue of 250% since July 2011 is a grossly misleading interpretation of the data.. What he selectively omitted from this information is that only a few well-placed individuals are siphoning the collected tax revenues.. The country relies heavily on imported items from both the East Africa region and the Sudan.. Compounded by the resurgence of open hostilities in the border area with Khartoum, it is precisely the lack of foresight in strategic planning and implementation of economic diversification by the government of South Sudan that has caused rising domestic prices for basic commodities.. It has been seven years since the country acquired the driving seat of its national affairs yet still it imports everything from bananas to meat products, despite the wealth of livestock and the fertile environment with which it is  ...   deficiencies from the severe lack of vitamins and protein, the country’s livestock are dying out through starvation, uncontained serious diseases and even old age.. What has the ministry of agriculture done in terms of developing disease control, veterinary services and grazing land over the past 7 years of its existence? The answer is sadly nothing.. Investment in livestock management should have been set as one of the top priorities of the ministry of agriculture given that this has the significant potential of curtailing livestock migration over great distances in search of water and grazing land, thereby containing diseases while contributing to the prevention of conflict between communities, such as that witnessed between the Dinka herdsmen and Zande farmers in the Western Equatoria state.. South Sudan continues to struggle (even more profoundly since the oil shut-down) to provide basic services in terms of education and health care to its population, despite having acquired over $12 billion USD in oil revenue over the past 7 years.. It is fair to say that the challenges of starting from scratch have been daunting and there is some truth to that old and tired, self-handicapping adage favoured by the government when trying to justify its dismal record of achievement – that Rome was not built in one day.. Indeed Rome was not build in one day.. A lot of foresight and proactive incremental steps went into building Rome.. That, together with a transparent and responsible management of both the financial and human resources.. The population at large have seldom seen signs of tangible incremental steps toward service provision.. Instead, rampant corruption by the president’s own admittance, and as laid bare in the country’s auditor general’s report speaks of the real reasons why we have not seen the seeds of development sprouting.. Many a time lip service has been paid to combating corruption.. That is all - lip service without any evidence of a prosecution.. President Kiir made promises to start building 30 primary schools and four secondary schools during the first 100 days of his government, in office since independence.. Even before the oil shut-down took place this target was not met and nothing more has since been said about it, just like many other elaborate promises made by the government.. Non-governmental organisations, with their lack of a harmonised approach to the provision of services, continue to be the thin concentration of oxygen that is keeping the country on life-support machine.. This in itself is not a good thing by any stretch of the imagination.. South Sudan cannot continue to hand out its territories to NGO franchises that come in and encourage the culture of dependency among the population.. Mr Sabuni’s assessment of the past year is nothing more than a scraping of the barrel for positive things to report.. That is not to say there is absolutely nothing positive to report.. Unfortunately damning evidence overshadows the minute slim pickings in the achievement camp While one year is not enough time to expect much in terms of development, we must remember that this government has been firmly in control of national affairs for the past 7 years; hence my assessment is based from the viewpoint of that duration.. The most resolute achievement to have come out of South Sudan in its first year since independence is the independence itself.. The decision of 98% of the population who voted for secession from the north, and their absolute resilience and hope in the face of the continuing adversity brought on largely by poorly thought out leadership decisions, lack of implementation and rampant corruption, should serve as the inspirational impetus for change..

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  • Title: Farm Clearances at Tipping Point | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Farm Clearances at Tipping Point.. July 23, 2012.. The Canberra Times.. An act as cruel, unconscionable and pointless as any in human history is unfolding in every country, developed or developing, on Earth.. Over the next two generations it will drive more than a billion people off land they have worked for generations, obliterating their livelihoods, their family heritage, their homes, their communities, their landscapes, their self-respect and skills.. It will send them to swell the voiceless ranks of the urban poor in the bloating megacities.. In an echo of events which propelled the English enclosure of the commons, the Scottish Highland clearances, the Irish famine and America's Grapes of Wrath farm evictions, the overwhelming might of big money and the food industry is being turned loose on rural humanity as never before in world history.. Because its effects are distributed globally and located in rural areas, the growing flood of farmers and their families leaving the land has attracted little attention or sympathy.. It is largely unseen - by governments, by urban societies divorced from their food sources, or by the media - for the enormous human tragedy which it is, nor for the scale to which it could grow.. Advertisement.. In the West, farmers have been leaving the land for a long time, as technology improved productivity and as the prices they received for their produce fell by a constant one to 2 per cent a year.. For example, when I first began reporting on rural matters, in the early 1970s, there were 19,600 dairy farmers in Australia.. Today the number is about 3200 and shrinks by several each week as our supermarket duopoly screws down their incomes, making it ever-harder for the remainder to survive.. In 18th-century England and Scotland, 19th-century Ireland and 20th-century America and Australia the forces which expelled people from their lands were, broadly, the power of wealthy land owners and very low farm incomes.. Not much has changed in the 21st century, with a dozen or so enormous global supermarket and food corporations competing to drive farm prices as low as they possibly can in the name of ''cheap food'', and an ugly land grab taking place across the world by corporate investors fleeing crumbling money markets, transnational agrifood corporates, Arab oil states, Chinese and Asian companies, superannuation trusts and other miscellaneous speculators attracted by the comparative buoyancy of farm land values as global food supplies tighten.. The scale of the land grab has been estimated by the World Bank (2011) at 56 million hectares a year.. The International Food Policy Research Institute estimates about $20 billion to $30 billion is now spent on foreign acquisitions of farmland globally each year.. The  ...   globalisation of economic power in the food and farm supply industries.. Last century farmers had many choices about where to sell their produce but with concentration and takeovers in the supermarket, grain and processed food sectors, vast integrated corporate empires, near monopolies in many cases, have arisen.. By competing among themselves these giants force the price to the farmer inexorably downward, while farm input suppliers drive up the price of fertilisers, machinery, seed, fuel, chemicals and other inputs.. Millions of farmers worldwide, trapped between these corporate millstones now have no alternative than to sell up or walk off or, in the case of Indian farmers, to kill themselves.. The same pressures threaten thousands of Australian farmers and their families, as the competition between agribusiness firms intensifies, and as they source their supplies from the cheapest place they can find worldwide, increasing our dependence on imported food.. Farmers on all continents report that the young are leaving the land, and the average age of farmers is now in the 60s.. There is truth in this - young people, smart enough to see what is happening to their parents, are fleeing to the cities before it happens to them.. Parents, demoralised by the incessant grinding are telling them to go, and get a life elsewhere.. Bit by bit the world's food production expertise, wisdom and knowhow is being dismantled and lost - while food insecurity looms.. The clearances of England, Scotland and Ireland that peopled the New World were justified at the time in the name of economic efficiency, regardless of their inhumanity.. Today the same justification is being trotted out to justify American, Arab or Chinese investments in Africa, or the need of huge supermarkets to pay the farmer ever less for milk, meat, grain, fruit or vegetables.. But economics measures short-term profits - turning a blind eye to human suffering, loss of skills, loss of soil, water, rural landscapes and communities, declining food quality, growing welfare impacts and their social and political results.. If the process of industrialising the food chain proceeds to its logical conclusion, without restraint or correction, it will displace up to 1.. 5 billion of the world's 1.. 8 billion farming families - one human being in five - by mid-century, an act of such a scale that no-one appears to have considered the consequences.. It is time for the world to reconsider its responsibility to the people who really feed us, before we again perpetrate one of the greatest injustices in the history of so-called civilisation.. Julian Cribb is an Australian science and agriculture writer and author of The Coming Famine: the global food crisis and what we can do to avoid it (UCP 2010)..

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  • Title: AgriSol Looking for New Partner in Tanzania Project | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: AgriSol Looking for New Partner in Tanzania Project.. July 20, 2012.. Daily Iowan.. By Kristen East.. In light of ongoing controversy involving an ethics complaint filed against him, state Board of Regents President Pro Tem Bruce Rastetter said AgriSol Energy officials are moving forward by seeking other education outreach opportunities with other universities.. Rastetter told Daily Iowan reporters during an interview Wednesday that AgriSol Energy Tanzania plans to work with other universities in the Kigoma region of Tanzania.. Officials recently signed a lease there.. Rastetter was unable to disclose the names of those universities, and Henry Akona — AgriSol Tanzania's director of communications — said they're still in the working stages of partnering with those schools.. The Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement filed an ethics complaint against Rastetter with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board last month, maintaining there was a conflict of interest involving Iowa State University and AgriSol Energy Tanzania — the Tanzanian arm of Iowa firm AgriSol Energy.. The Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement also partnered with the Oakland Institute to release the report.. "Lives on Hold".. on July 9 that alleges that AgriSol Energy is responsible in part for human-rights abuses against more than 160,000 refugees in the area of Tanzania the company had considered developing — an accusation that the agricultural firm vehemently denies.. The Community Improvement group is calling for Rastetter's resignation from the state Board of Regents.. Rastetter is the cofounder and managing director of AgriSol.. The DI has previously reported that AgriSol reached out to Iowa State officials to put together an outreach program to work with small Tanzanian farmers.. Iowa  ...   to duplicate it.. ".. Iowa State officials did not return comment following Rastetter's interview Thursday evening.. While Rastetter maintains he is not at fault for AgriSol's work with Iowa State and denies any potential conflict of interest, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement members continue to hold meetings calling for the regent's resignation from the board.. The group held an event titled "Take down Bruce Rastetter/Fire This Man" at Old Brick, 26 E.. Market St.. , Wednesday night to discuss campaign strategies.. Group member Adam Mason said more than 30 people attended the event, and they were given a timeline of Rastetter's involvement with AgriSol and his time as a regent.. "… [Rastetter] used his role on the Board of Regents to legitimize [the group's partnering] with Iowa State," Mason said.. "His involvement with AgriSol predated his stint on the Board of Regents from day one, and those conflict of interests should have been stated.. The national consumer advocacy nonprofit organization Food Water Watch announced Wednesday that it would join the Iowa Community Improvement's ethics complaint against Rastetter.. "Rastetter has betrayed the trust of the Iowans he is supposed to be serving on the Board of Regents and has severely compromised the institutional credibility of ISU," Wenonah Hauter, Food Water Watch's executive director, said in a press release.. Rastetter says he's not worried about the complaint and will go about the legal process if that's what's necessary.. "I haven't done anything wrong," he said.. "In order to have a conflict [of interest], it would actually have to be an agreement.. I very clearly identified it, the Iowa State people identified it..

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  • Title: Iowa Regent: African Land Deal Was Ethical | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Iowa Regent: African Land Deal Was Ethical.. Omaha World Herald.. IOWA CITY (AP) — Iowa Regent Bruce Rastetter on Thursday defended working with Iowa State University to pursue a large-scale land development in Africa that could have benefited himself financially.. He blamed growing criticism over his involvement on misinformation and public-relations mistakes.. Environmentalists and watchdog groups accuse the prominent Republican businessman of trying to use his influence as a member of the board that governs Iowa State to benefit AgriSol Energy, an investment group he founded and manages that is developing farmland in Tanzania.. Iowa State withdrew from the project in February in the face of mounting criticism, and a state ethics board next month will consider a complaint alleging Rastetter had a clear conflict of interest.. In an interview Thursday with the Associated Press, Rastetter said he doesn't think he did anything unethical in pursuing the plan.. If it had succeeded, he said, it could have not only made profits over time — he didn't say how much, but tens of millions of dollars were at stake — but also benefited the Tanzanian people by increasing their food supply and spurring economic development.. He said his goal was to invest in a country that needs help.. He said AgriSol dropped its plan to develop land it had considered using after the company learned about the Tanzanian government's removal of up to 160,000 Burundi refugees who had been living there.. Instead, he said AgriSol is developing uninhabited land elsewhere in Tanzania on a smaller scale.. Critics such as the Oakland Institute, a California watchdog that monitors land deals in Africa, have denounced AgriSol's plans as a greedy land grab that improperly used Iowa State's reputation and expertise.. Rastetter said he would never seek to displace refugees, but critics' claims went unchallenged for months as he kept quiet.. He said his silence fostered both misinformation and mounting pressure on ISU to pull out.. “I stayed out of it because of being a regent, not wanting to look like I was trying to influence anyone in the process,” he said.. “I should  ...   donating $160,000 to Branstad's election campaign.. Rastetter in 2007 gave $1.. 75 million to ISU's College of Agriculture Life Sciences to create an endowed professorship in agricultural entrepreneurship, a job held by Kevin Kimle, who helped advance AgriSol's work in Tanzania.. Rastetter said he donated to Branstad because of his policies and gave to Iowa State so that more students would learn about business.. He said he asked Branstad to make him a regent so he could serve the public, noting that he already helped persuade lawmakers to increase funding for Iowa's public universities.. “Those that want to view me as using political influence for personal gain, which I have not, ought to realize that I use political influence for the universities that I have a role and responsibility on,” he said.. Rastetter said public-private partnerships were good for universities and the public.. ISU officials planned to implement an AgriSol-funded program to provide services and training to farmers living nearby.. He said he respected Iowa State's decision to pull out, “because the controversy and misinformation was unrelenting.. ” But Rastetter said Tanzanian farmers will miss the school's expertise and students will lose opportunities to study abroad.. Rastetter and AgriSol had been working with Iowa State for more than a year to plan the project before he became a regent.. Weeks after he joined the board, he identified AgriSol as a potential conflict in a forum held by the board.. He said he had no “direct involvement” in discussions with Iowa State afterward, but records show otherwise.. Last June, Rastetter emailed assistant ISU dean David Acker asking for a plan detailing “the division of responsibilities between the university and our commercial side.. ” Acker responded with a memo asking AgriSol to fund a five-year contract for the university's work in Tanzania.. Rastetter said he doesn't view the exchange as improper and said no funding agreement was reached.. He also said Iowa State dropped its plan to seek a federal grant for the project with AgriSol after university officials identified the potential conflict in helping a regent's investment firm receive tax dollars..

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  • Title: Regent Defends Africa Land Deal | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Regent Defends Africa Land Deal.. Telegraph Herald.. (AP) IOWA CITY -- Iowa Regent Bruce Rastetter on Thursday defended working with Iowa State University to pursue a large-scale land development in Africa that could have benefited himself financially and blamed growing criticism over his involvement on misinformation and public relations mistakes.. In an interview Thursday with The Associated Press, Rastetter said he doesn't think he did anything unethical in  ...   made profit over time -- he didn't say how much, but tens of millions of dollars were at stake -- but benefited the Tanzanian people by increasing their food supply and spurring economic development.. He said AgriSol dropped its plan to develop land it had considered using after the company learned about problems in the Tanzanian government's removal of up to 160,000 Burundi refugees who've been living there..

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  • Title: Rastetter Breaks his Silence on AgriSol Project | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Rastetter Breaks his Silence on AgriSol Project.. Ames Tribune.. By Hannah Furfaro.. AgriSol Energy’s intentions to build industrial farms in Tanzania have been misrepresented by the media and advocacy groups, according to Iowa Board of Regents president pro tem and agriculture entrepreneur Bruce Rastetter, who sat down with the Ames Tribune for an interview about the project Wednesday.. In an attempt to quell some of the controversy surrounding his involvement in the $100 million agriculture project, Rastetter discussed his participation after a year of silence.. Rastetter, co-founder and managing director of AgriSol Energy, the company that plans to lease land and develop farms in rural Tanzania, said criticism of his project has largely been unfounded, particularly in regard to claims that the company was involved in the relocation of Burundian refugees occupying land AgriSol planned to farm.. AgriSol has received criticism from media outlets and watchdog groups based on a 2010 blueprint and Memorandum of Understanding with the Tanzanian government that shows AgriSol’s plan to do feasibility studies on land occupied by 160,000 Burundian refugees who have been living there for 40 years.. “That’s one of the really unfortunate parts about this project that wasn’t cleared up, and we’ll take some of the blame for that,” Rastetter said.. “We would never have built … where there are refugees.. At the same time, when the (Tanzanian) government says, ‘Here’s the set of land you can look at,’ you look at it.. As we learned there were problems with the refugees, then we focused on the property that we ended up with the actual lease on.. The project aims to create what Rastetter calls an “outgrower program” in Tanzania.. Rastetter said small-holder farmers would be supplied inputs, such as seed and fertilizer, and would be given the option to sell their crops to AgriSol, which would then produce value-added products such as cooking oil and chicken feed.. AgriSol would also provide equipment and land to the small-holders, Rastetter said.. AgriSol plans to invest $100 million in the project over a 10-year period, he said, and would have the option to export its goods to surrounding countries.. Tanzania, situated in eastern African between Kenya and Mozambique, has been focused in recent years on agricultural development through the government’s “Kilimo Kwanza,” or “Agriculture First” initiative.. The nation has a history of exporting coffee, cotton and minerals, such as gold.. According to African Economic Outlook, an organization that consolidates economic data from the United Nations and the African Development Bank, Tanzania has increased its regional and international trade since the 1990s.. Imported goods including oil, machinery and raw materials, have doubled from 16 to 31 percent of the country’s gross domestic product since 2003, the AEO report shows.. Tanzania has also become a net importer of vegetable cooking oil, according to a recent report from the Food and Agriculture Organization for the United Nations.. Henry Akona, AgriSol’s director of communications, said the AgriSol project would help reduce the amount of cooking oil Tanzania imports each year by 20 percent.. •••.. Until Wednesday, details on AgriSol’s plans have remained largely out of the media spotlight.. Reports have focused chiefly on Rastetter’s role as a regent and the scheduled removal of Burundian refugees who live on the land.. The refugees, who fled to Tanzania following the Hutu-Tutsi conflict in the early 1970s, are currently living in two western regions of the country.. Plans between the Tanzanian government and the United Nations, which intended to grant the refugees citizenship and integrate them into other parts of Tanzania within two years, were scheduled to take place beginning in 2007, the same  ...   An advocacy group called Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement has called Rastetter’s project a “land grab” and a get-rich scheme for the company’s investors.. Rastetter countered those claims Wednesday, saying, “We have never thought about the project that way.. “If I was certainly in it to make money, and just make money, I would invest in agriculture in a whole lot of other areas than Tanzania,” he said.. Rastetter said one goal is to be financially successful.. But, he said, he is also interested in creating food safety and economic stability in the region.. After stepping down in 2007 from leadership positions at various companies where he has financial holdings, Rastetter said he decided to become more involved in philanthropy.. Becoming a regent and developing the project in Tanzania, he said, were both steps in that direction.. Rastetter has also given $2.. 25 million to ISU, which endowed the Rastetter Chair of Agricultural Entrepreneurship.. Citing a recent visit by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete to the G8 Summit in May, Akona said there is a “global consensus” about public-private partnerships and foreign investment in countries that are struggling economically.. “What did he talk about? Private-public partnerships in agriculture,” Akona said of Kikwete’s G8 visit.. “He didn’t talk about agriculture subsidies, he didn’t talk about food aid; he talked about ways to grow more food in Tanzania and this was a bipartisan issue.. People are trying to portray this as this Republican agribusiness conspiracy.. This is the way forward.. That debate is over.. Critics, including Iowa CCI, have said AgriSol stood to gain upwards of $300 million a year from the project.. Rastetter said that number was “simply made up.. “The part that’s unique is that you not only have to have someone who wants to invest, but it also has a philanthropic part to it because it’s not like it’s a large return like you would have going to Brazil or going elsewhere,” he said.. Rastetter had declined to speak to the media about the project until this week.. He said his decision to speak on the record, in part, was based on misunderstandings about the project.. After officials from ISU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who were initially involved in the project, discontinued their participation, Rastetter said he felt more comfortable opening up.. His position as a regent, he said, made the situation vulnerable.. Rastetter is fighting an ethics complaint that alleges his dual positions as a regent and a business partner with ISU, a university the regents govern, created a conflict of interest.. “I couldn’t come out and say all those things, or at least I felt like I couldn’t,” Rastetter said.. “I probably should have still anyway, but I felt I shouldn’t.. But when Iowa State removed themselves from the project and there continues to be controversy, it’s time to just come out and tell you what the project is and what it isn’t.. ISU faculty and administrators, who were initially involved in both private contracting activities and the development of an educational outreach program for Tanzanian farmers, pulled out of the project in February.. In a statement at that time, Wendy Wintersteen, dean of the agriculture college, cited negative media attention and misunderstandings about the project as the primary reasons why ISU pulled out.. Rastetter said he was “disappointed” ISU ended its involvement, but that he understands the university’s decision.. “Am I disappointed that Iowa State withdrew?” he said.. “Yeah, sure I am, because I think it was a good project for them to be involved with or I wouldn’t have gotten them involved prior to being a regent..

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  • Title: Rastetter Unsure of When Regents Will Discuss Allegations against Him | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Rastetter Unsure of When Regents Will Discuss Allegations against Him.. by Jordyn Reiland.. State Board of Regents President Pro Tem Bruce Rastetter said he unsure whether the ethics complaint filed against him will be discussed when the Regents meet the first week of August.. Rastetter sat down for an interview Wednesday with.. reporters and editors to speak about recent allegations surrounding his connection to Tanzania and his hopes as a regent in the future.. Last month, the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement filed a complaint against the regent with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, alleging there was a conflict of interest involving Iowa State University with the Tanzanian deal.. Rastetter said there was only a conflict of interest if Iowa State had remained a part in the project; the university backed out of the project in February.. The Community Improvement group also  ...   still would be in it.. Rastetter is a cofounder and managing director of AgriSol.. In a June DI Guest Opinion, David Goodner — a member of the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement — said the regents may or may not officially address the complaint at the upcoming meeting in August.. "[Regent] President [Craig] Lang and Downer set the [regents'] agenda, and I will just leave it to them," Rastetter said.. Regent Robert Downer was not available for comment as of Thursday night.. Rastetter said that although some have seen the relationship between him and Iowa State University as a potential conflict, he looks forward to his upcoming term and plans on advocating in engagement between Iowans.. "We need to make sure that we re-engage Iowans everywhere and understand the value of the three universities, and not just those that graduate from here," he said..

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  • Title: National Nonprofit Food & Water Watch Joins Complaint Against Rastetter, Exposes Another AgriSol Executive as Complicit in Tanzania Land Grab | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: National Nonprofit Food Water Watch Joins Complaint Against Rastetter, Exposes Another AgriSol Executive as Complicit in Tanzania Land Grab.. July 19, 2012.. NorthcentralPA.. com.. Des Moines, Iowa — Today the national consumer advocacy nonprofit Food Water Watch – with more than 400,000 members nationally and over 5,000 in Iowa – joined Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement’s (Iowa CCI) ethics complaint against Iowa Regent Bruce Rastetter for an egregious conflict of interest involving a Tanzania land deal he brokered in partnership with Iowa State University.. Food Water Watch delivered a letter delivered to Iowa Ethics Campaign Disclosure Board Executive Director Megan Tooker today requesting to be added to Iowa CCI’s ethics complaint.. “Rastetter has betrayed the trust of the Iowans he is supposed to be serving on the Board of Regents and has severely compromised the institutional credibility of ISU,” said Wenonah Hauter, Food Water Watch’s executive director.. “His continued presence on the Board sends a strong message that Iowa State exists to serve the political and corporate elite, not the hard-working, honest family farmers and everyday citizens whose taxpayer dollars fund the university.. In its letter, Food Water Watch details the ways in which Rastetter may have or may continue to exert influence over  ...   part of Branstad appointees,” said Garry Klicker, Iowa CCI member, family farmer, and small businessman from Davis County, Iowa.. “The only responsible thing for the state ethics board to do is launch a formal investigation into this matter.. Food Water Watch formally joins Iowa CCI’s ethics complaint after conducting several public meetings throughout Iowa discussing its recent report, Public Research, Private Gain, that examines the ways in which private-sector funding corrupts the public-interest research mission of land-grant universities.. The report investigates schools across the country and analyzes the millions of corporate dollars going to agricultural departments and professors at Iowa State from agribusiness giants such as Monsanto and Dow.. Some departments take close to half of their research funding from private sources, while some individual professors are almost entirely dependent on the millions of dollars they take from industry.. Iowa State’s efforts to work with Bruce Rastetter on the AgriSol project is just one more example of the school shifting its priorities from the needs of consumers and farmers of Iowa to the ambitions of corporate agribusiness.. For commentary, futher background or a copy of Food Water Watch’s letter to the Ethics Campaign Disclosure Board, contact Matt Ohloff, 319-512-7825,.. mohloff@fwwatch.. Contact: Anna Ghosh, 415-293-9905, aghosh(at)fwwatch(dot)org..

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  • Title: Iowa Regent Admits Mistake in Africa Land Deal | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Iowa Regent Admits Mistake in Africa Land Deal.. KCRG--Cedar Rapids.. IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Regent Bruce Rastetter on Thursday defended working with Iowa State University to pursue a large-scale land development in Africa that could have benefited himself financially and blamed growing criticism over his involvement on misinformation and public relations mistakes.. Iowa State withdrew from the project in February in the face of mounting criticism and a state ethics board next month will consider a complaint alleging Rastetter had a clear conflict of interest.. If it had succeeded, he said it could have not only made profit over time — he didn't say how much, but tens of millions of dollars were at stake — but benefited the Tanzanian people by increasing their food supply and spurring economic development.. He said he would never seek to displace refugees but critics' claims went unchallenged for months as Rastetter kept quiet.. He blamed his silence for allowing misinformation to "catch hold" and pressure to mount on ISU to pull out.. "I stayed out of it because of being a regent, not wanting to look like I was trying to influence anyone in the process," he said.. "I should have been more proactive.. Rastetter also acknowledged that the project "might have been cleaner" from the public's standpoint if a university professor whose job is funded by his donations had not been involved.. The groups have been holding meetings across Iowa in which they've portrayed Rastetter as emblematic of what they believe is the growing influence of corporations over land grant universities.. Terry Branstad at their homes last weekend to lobby for Rastetter's  ...   "Those that want to view me as using political influence for personal gain, which I have not, ought to realize that I use political influence for the universities that I have a role and responsibility on," he said.. Rastetter said that public-private partnerships were good for universities and the public.. ISU officials were to implement an AgriSol-funded program to provide a range of services and training to help farmers living nearby.. He said Kimle, the Rastetter Chair of Agricultural Entrepreneurship, asked to get involved as a consultant for "the right reasons" because of his expertise, but perhaps should have been rejected.. He said he respected Iowa State's decision to pull out, "because the controversy and misinformation was unrelenting.. " But Rastetter said Tanzanian farmers will miss the school's expertise and students will lose opportunities to study abroad.. Weeks after he joined the board, he identified AgriSol as a potential conflict in a form held by the board.. He said he had no "direct involvement" in discussions with Iowa State after that, but records show otherwise.. Last June, Rastetter emailed assistant ISU dean David Acker asking for a plan detailing "the division of responsibilities between the university and our commercial side.. " Acker responded with a memo asking AgriSol to fund a five-year contract for the university's work in Tanzania.. Rastetter said he doesn't view the exchange as improper, and noted that no funding agreement was reached.. He also noted that plans for Iowa State to seek a federal grant for the project with AgriSol were dropped after university officials identified the potential conflict in helping a regent's investment firm receive tax dollars..

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