It is not True that Three American Companies Bought Large Agricultural Land in Ukraine
Ukrainian legislation prohibits the sale of agricultural land to foreigners and foreign-owned companies. This restriction can be lifted, but first, there must be a referendum, and no referendum was held for this purpose in Ukraine. Therefore, it is not true that three large American multinational companies bought over 17 million hectares of Ukrainian agricultural land. Consequently, the dilemma that arises in the post we are reviewing, “Is this the reason for the war in Ukraine”, where the author alludes to the non-existent sale of agricultural land to American companies, is unfounded
We are reviewing a post published on the social network Facebook in which it is said that three large American multinational companies have bought over 17 million hectares of Ukrainian agricultural land. According to the comparison presented in the post, the three American companies have taken over more useful agricultural land in Ukraine than there is in all of Italy because in Italy there were only 16.7 million hectares of agricultural land.
Is this the same reason for the war in Ukraine!? The Australian edition “National Review” writes that three large American multinational companies have bought over 17 million hectares of Ukrainian agricultural land, the post reads.
According to the post we are reviewing, the companies that allegedly bought this agricultural land are Cargill, Dipon and Monsanto.
The post said Ukraine ended a 20-year moratorium on agricultural land sales in 2021, hoping to unleash productivity and investment in the agricultural sector. According to the post, the land market was opened as a condition for receiving the credit from the International Monetary Fund.
Known as Europe’s largest granary, Ukraine was one of the world’s largest agricultural producers and exporters. After its independence in 1991, the government distributed agricultural land to small farmers. However, farmers could only use the land privately or lease it to agribusiness. Citizens of Ukraine can buy a maximum of 100 hectares, while agribusinesses can participate in auctions to buy up to 10,000 hectares, the post said.
However, the news published on the “Australian National Review” website is not true. Consequently, what was conveyed in the post we are reviewing was not true, specifically the allegations that American companies bought almost a third of the arable land in Ukraine.
On July 27, the news about the sale of Ukrainian land to American companies appeared in many foreign pro-Russian media, including Gazeta.ru, NewsFront, Vesti.ru, Argumenti Nedeli, National Television and others.
According to the Ukrainian fact-checking service Stop Fake, the earliest source of the disputed and untrue claims is the Australian National Review on May 27 of this year.
However, the Australian National Review does not mention the American firms listed in the post we are reviewing.
Additionally, at the bottom of the text, there is a correction that reads that the number mentioned (17 million hectares) is an error and that it is actually 1.7 million hectares.
The text of the “Australian National Review” mentions a text from the French portal Ritmo.org, but in the linked text published on that portal on November 12, 2021, there is no information that Ukraine sold its land to American international companies.
In the post we reviewed, it is claimed that the three big firms Cargill, Dipon and Monsanto bought 17 of the 62 million hectares of Ukrainian agricultural land. It is also noted that this is a third of the total Ukrainian agricultural land suitable for cultivation.
The text is disinformation. The very idea of selling Ukrainian land to international corporations is against Ukrainian legislation, writes Stop Fake, a Ukrainian fact-checking service.
Namely, the agricultural land market in Ukraine started functioning on July 1, 2021, but with a series of restrictions. After more than 20 years of moratorium on the sale of agricultural land, on July 1, 2021, Ukrainian landowners again got the right to freely dispose of their property and sell it if they wish.
However, the main legal restriction is a ban on the sale of agricultural land to foreigners and foreign-owned companies.
This restriction can be lifted, but only after a referendum that would raise the issue of allowing the sale of land to foreigners. Such a referendum has never been held in Ukraine. Another limitation is that citizens of Ukraine can buy up to 100 hectares and legal entities up to 10 thousand hectares of land.
According to the land-tracking database Land Metrics, none of the firms mentioned in the post has entered into land-related deals in Ukraine since 2019, Full Fact reports, although they have invested in Ukraine-related businesses.
The Monsanto Company mentioned in the post no longer exists as an independent company as it was acquired by the German chemical company Bayer in 2018.
Full Fact contacted Cargill Bayer and DuPont to ask if they received land in Ukraine after President Volodymyr Zelensky took office in 2019. A DuPont spokesperson said the post was inaccurate and untrue and clarified that this company has not purchased any land in Ukraine. Bayer’s spokesperson told Full Fact that the company does not own any land in Ukraine.
Due to all the above facts, we assess that it is not true that three large American multinational companies bought over 17 million hectares of Ukrainian agricultural land. Consequently, the dilemma that arises in the post we are reviewing, “is this the reason for the war in Ukraine”, where the author alludes to the non-existent sale of agricultural land to American companies – is unfounded.
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