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Goldhahn, Hedvig, 2021. Family farm and financial asset : external land ownership and family agriculture on the Swedish Plains. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development

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Abstract

In Sweden, the potential deregulation of the land market has been discussed in recent years,
motivated by the increasing demand for external capital in agriculture. Corporate entities’ are
currently restricted from purchasing farmland by the Swedish Land Acquisition Act. In this thesis,
I have wanted to look at a case of this type of landowner, to investigate what consequences its land
ownership has on agrarian structures. This study is as such centered around the case of the Uppsala
University Endowment Management (UUEM), an institution which owns around 15.000 hectares
of farmland in mid-Sweden as part of its larger financial portfolio. The institution manages this
agricultural land with the explicit aim of achieving the highest possible returns on investment.
The results of this qualitative study, which is based on semi-structured interviews with twelve
informants, indicate that the economic benefits of keeping land for this type of long-term,
production-oriented land investor derives from the extraction of land rents, and the capital gains
made when land or real estate is decoupled from agricultural production as a consequence of
urbanization or the consolidation of farmland. While the profits made from owning agricultural
land are relatively modest, owning farmland as an asset is still attractive for the UUEM as it is a
way to lower the institution’s total portfolio risk, seeing as the relatively high risks associated with
agricultural production are externalized to the farmers leasing its land.
Even as the land is leased out, the UUEM was found to be exerting management control over
farms, notably through the top-down consolidation of land and (re)configuration of units, the
layout and infrastructure of which comes to be designed in a way which favors capital-intensive,
large-scale production. The institutional landowner can as such be said to steer agricultural
production into a certain matrix, and limit the farm development paths which can reasonably be
pursued by farmers on its land.
Many interviewed lessees viewed the corporate entity’s land ownership in a positive light,
seeing it to be providing tenants with the possibility of keeping up with the increased capital
requirements of agriculture in a region where farming is increasingly intensive and large-scale.
Rapid land appreciation, land concentration, and the subsequent growing separation between
labour and ownership over the means of production was not politicized by these informants, who
seemed to view this as more or less a natural process. By contrast, a few lessees questioned the
increasing concentration of land, in some cases expressing a preference for a land use and
ownership pattern characterized by less large-scale, autonomous family farms.
As the capital intensity of agricultural production increase, agrarian structures are impacted,
with the family farms in the investigated case seemingly having ceded some power over farm
development and reproduction to the landowner. At the same time, farmers maintained
considerable freedom when choosing what to produce and how, and there were indications that the
increasing financialization of land also opened up new possible avenues of action for large-scale
agricultural producers.
The proposal to deregulate corporate entities’ land ownership in Sweden has been motivated by
the advantages of scale in agriculture. This type of agrarian development however also contributes
to a loss of livelihoods and an increased concentration of land, among other things, which is a
reason why this deregulation and its effect on land use and ownership patterns deserves to be
debated.

Main title:Family farm and financial asset
Subtitle:external land ownership and family agriculture on the Swedish Plains
Authors:Goldhahn, Hedvig
Supervisor:Kuns, Brian
Examiner:Marquardt, Kristina
Series:UNSPECIFIED
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2021
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:NM009 Rural Development and Natural Resource Management - Master's Programme 120 HEC
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
Keywords:financialization, family farming, land ownership, tenancy, Uppsala Akademiförvaltning
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-s-500295
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-s-500295
Subjects:Land economics and policies
Language:English
Deposited On:19 Aug 2021 08:49
Metadata Last Modified:20 Aug 2021 01:00

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