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Farmland sustainability report | 2019

Sustainability in focus – worker health and safety

We prioritize worker health and safety in the acquisition and management of our farmland investments and strive to mitigate environmental risks that affect workers and local communities. Westchester’s worker health and safety practices can be tied to SDG 8 — Promote full and productive employment and decent work for all, specifically SDG target 8.5, Fair labour and working conditions, including equal opportunities and non-discrimination.

Health and safety in Poland

Striving to improve working conditions by dealing with deep-rooted environmental risks

As part of its commitment to worker health and safety, Westchester takes a systematic approach to mitigating environmental risks that affect workers on their farms and local communities, such as the presence of asbestos in older farm buildings. This approach involves conducting thorough due diligence during acquisition, executing remediation plans to address environmental issues, and implementing effective farm policies.

Health and safety issues vary from country to country. In Poland, agricultural workers can be at risk from toxic materials in farm buildings and other infrastructure that remains in place from the 20th century. Poland’s 2004 entrance into the European Union (EU) led to the adoption of several common EU regulations (acquis communautaire) to address environmental issues. These EU rules, combined with Polish legal requirements related to labour and environmental protection, have compelled strong steps toward environmental remediation in Poland’s agricultural sector. Particularly relevant is an EU asbestos ban going into effect in 2032, which comes in response to rising environmental awareness and strong interest by ecological NGOs.

Accordingly, Westchester prioritizes environmental due diligence when acquiring new farmland properties to ensure the health and safety of farm workers, their families and local rural communities. The company engages a third-party consultant to conduct a detailed environmental assessment of the underlying farmland as well as fixed assets on the property. The consultant inspects the site, collects relevant data, interviews the farm manager and workers, and quantifies potential risks and remediation costs. Based on the full report, Westchester works with a reputable expert to form a remediation plan that is subject to the approval of environmental authorities.

The professional, licensed contractor hired by Westchester carries out and monitors the remediation process and proper disposal of hazardous materials. Westchester’s significant capital investment at acquisition gives farm managers greater capacity to prioritize and address health and safety risks than would be possible with more limited resources.

"Remediation of farm sites and disposal of hazardous materials, like asbestos and fuel leakages into soils, generate significant costs...

...It is highly appreciated that Westchester initiates and fully finances such projects. Proper handling of chemical agricultural inputs, for example, is a very important element of agricultural production safety procedures. Westchester has just constructed a professional storage facility for chemical plant protection products that prevents uncontrolled usage and negative environmental impacts."

Maciej Kiełbasa, Farm foreman

Common health and safety issues that must be remediated include carcinogenic asbestos dust that workers might inhale and underground oil tanks that can leak pollutants into soils. On farm properties now managed by Westchester in Poland, 1,550 tons of asbestos, 57 oil tanks and 15,132 tons of surrounding contaminated soil have been removed since 2011.

In 2016 Westchester was one of the first entities to introduce GLOBALG.A.P. Certification in Poland for combinable crops. The company shared the cost with farmers, which has led to initial adoption within our Poland portfolio. Of the almost 98,000 acres under management in Poland, 34% were certified under GLOBALG.A.P. as of December 2018. All new tenancy agreements require this certification, which will become standard for the Poland portfolio overall and a powerful tool for ensuring worker health and safety.

Inclusive, productive employment

Satisfying essential farm needs by engaging workers with disabilities

Nuveen’s Fruits of Employment (FoE) initiative gives individuals with disabilities access to competitive employment across four custom-farmed properties in California, Oregon and Washington.

Read this article on page 25 of the full report.

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Risks and other important considerations

Farmland investments are less developed, more illiquid and less transparent compared to traditional asset classes. Investments will be subject to risks generally associated with the ownership of real estate-related assets and foreign investing, including changes in economic conditions, currency values, environmental risks, the cost of and ability to obtain insurance and risks related to leasing of properties.

This material is provided for informational or educational purposes only and does not constitute a solicitation of any securities in any jurisdiction in which such solicitation is unlawful or to any person to whom it is unlawful. Moreover, it neither constitutes an offer to enter into an investment agreement with the recipient of this document nor an invitation to respond to it by making an offer to enter into an investment agreement. 

This material may contain “forward-looking” information that is not purely historical in nature. Such information may include projections, forecasts, estimates of yields or returns, and proposed or expected portfolio composition. Moreover, certain historical performance information of other investment vehicles or composite accounts managed by Nuveen may be included in this material and such performance information is presented by way of example only. No representation is made that the performance presented will be achieved, or that every assumption made in achieving, calculating or presenting either the forward-looking information or the historical performance information herein has been considered or stated in preparing this material. Any changes to assumptions that may have been made in preparing this material could have a material impact on the investment returns that are presented herein by way of example.

This material is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. The information and opinions contained in this material are derived from proprietary and non-proprietary sources deemed by Nuveen to be reliable, and not necessarily all-inclusive and are not guaranteed as to accuracy. There is no guarantee that any forecasts made will come to pass. Company name is only for explanatory purposes and does not constitute as investment advice and is subject to change. Any investments named within this material may not necessarily be held in any funds/accounts managed by Nuveen. Reliance upon information in this material is at the sole discretion of the reader. Views of the author may not necessarily reflect the view s of Nuveen as a whole or any part thereof. 

Past performance is not a guide to future performance.
Investment involves risk, including loss of principal. The value of investments and the income from them can fall as well as rise and is not guaranteed. Changes in the rates of exchange between currencies may cause the value of investments to fluctuate.

This information does not constitute investment research as defined under MiFID.

The investment advisory services, strategies and expertise of TIAA Investments, a division of Nuveen, are provided by Teachers Advisors, LLC and TIAA-CREF Investment Management, LLC.