Our approach to farmland investment
With investments that often last 20 years or more, we are committed to preserving farmland for the long term – conserving water, minimizing chemical use and nutrient runoff and respecting the rights of our tenants, partners and local communities. These commitments define our approach:
· Acquire farmland assets generally with long-term investment horizons.
· Emphasize the purchase of existing agricultural land rather than converting virgin land or forest.
· Respect local laws and best practices for protecting sensitive environmental or cultural areas.
· Diversify land holdings by geography, climate factors, crop types and agricultural markets.
· Apply capital and technology to increase productivity and minimize environmental impact.
Nuveen implements farmland investments through our affiliated asset manager, Westchester, with local offices to effectively oversee global farm properties across four continents.
Pre-acquisition due diligence
We follow a strict due diligence process that covers legal ownership rights, the suitability of third party managers, joint-venture partners, tenants or operators, and financial risk and return. We strive to continuously improve our process for determining land rights, particularly in regions with maturing legal structures. We also assess a range of environmental impacts and risks, including pesticide storage, harvesting practices, water rights and water use efficiency, and presence of endangered species.
Following acquisition, our team actively monitors each farm with annual site evaluations to assess performance against the PRI Farmland Guidelines. Each year, Westchester is required to report on a variety of property standards, ranging from infrastructure maintenance and harvesting practices, to compliance with legal, employment and other local regulations. Westchester makes regular site visits to verify that farm management practices and working conditions meet our high standards.
Farming as a partnership
The partnership between Nuveen, Westchester, local farms and crop managers governs our sustainability approach. We have varying degrees of influence over specific sustainable practices based on the business relationship we have with each farm tenant or operator.
Westchester identifies and underwrites our farmland investments, including negotiating lease and crop management agreements. The firm's local managers work with farmers and crop managers to promote sustainable farming practices. Westchester's local managers have agricultural backgrounds and bring extensive experience in overseeing our properties.
Working through Westchester, Nuveen encourages farmers to implement the Farmland Guidelines and our tenant Code of Conduct in their day-to-day operations. How we do this depends primarily on crop type:
• Row crops are planted or harvested annually and include corn, cotton, grain cereals, sugarcane and soybeans. These crops may be processed into food for human consumption, animal feed, fuel (e.g., ethanol) or fiber for clothing. Land is typically leased to local tenant operators, including many who have farmed our land for 10 years or more. This continuity helps to foster a consistent approach to pesticide storage, harvesting practices, water rights and water use efficiency — issues which are fundamental to sustainability.
• Permanent crops, such as vines or trees, are planted once and produce crops over many years. Examples include apples, tree nuts, citrus, avocados and wine grapes — sold whole or used as ingredients for other products. Westchester and a local crop manager provide joint management support to optimize the success of these crops. Unlike largely mechanized row-crop farming, most permanent crops require significant manual labor typically hired and supervised by the local crop manager. The long-term nature of this investment lends itself to creative solutions such as wastewater recycling and other innovative technology that help to minimize environmental impacts.
Respecting land and resource rights
We are sensitive to investors' concerns about inadvertently violating insecure land rights, which may be acknowledged by local governments but not protected by law. Accordingly, in regions with still-maturing legal and civil infrastructure, our due diligence process is designed to prevent the acquisition of land when ownership is unclear. We perform title searches and other legal reviews to help verify that land we acquire has a sound title. We also consider the rights of native peoples, such as in:
• Australia, where we identify and strive to protect under our stewardship any property listed on applicable aboriginal heritage registers.
• Brazil, where we ensure that properties to be acquired are not among indigenous and quilombolas territories.
• Chile, where we avoid investments in locations with a history of land rights conflicts involving indigenous populations.
Preventing illegal deforestation
A key concern of Nuveen stakeholders is that farmland investment may come at the expense of forested areas. Our portfolio consists of land locally approved for agriculture and, in most cases, used as farmland for many years. Our due diligence helps ensure that land we acquire meets all government requirements for forest protection and that property designated for conservation is preserved.
This material is not intended to be a recommendation or investment advice, does not constitute a solicitation to buy, sell, or hold a security or investment strategy, and is not provided in a fiduciary capacity. The information provided does not take into account the specific objectives or circumstances of any particular investor, or suggest any specific course of action. Investment decisions should be made based on an investor's objectives and circumstances and in consultation with his or her advisors.
Investing involves risk; principal loss is possible. There is no guarantee an investment's objectives will be achieved. Investments in farmland have specific risks, including fluctuations in property value, higher expenses or lower income than expected and environmental problems and liability.
Nuveen provides investment advisory solutions through its investment specialists. 827363-R-O-04/20