Bill Gates Adds 2,100 Acres to His Already Massive U.S. Land Holdings

Gates already owns around 270,000 acres of farmland.

QUICK FACTS:
  • Microsoft founder Bill Gates has secured approval to purchase 2,100 acres of farmland in North Dakota from Campbell Farms.
  • The billionaire already owns around 270,000 acres of farmland in about a dozen of states, making Gates the largest private owner of farmland in America.
  • Gates paid about $13.5 million for the farmland after the North Dakota Attorney General signed off on the purchase.
  • The property was purchased under one of Gates’ firms that reportedly plans to lease the land back to farmers.
  • A depression-era law bars corporations and other businesses from owning farmland, except in the case of individual trusts that buy agricultural land to lease it back to farms.
OFFICIAL STATE RESPONSE TO THE PURCHASE:
  • Earlier this week, North Dakota State Attorney General Drew Wrigley wrote a letter to Red River Trust, notifying it that corporations and limited liability companies were “prohibited from owning or leasing farmland or ranchland in the state of North Dakota.”
  • The letter went on to say that the AG’s office “needs to confirm how your company uses this land and whether this use meets any of the statutory exceptions, such as the business purpose exception, so that we may close this case and file it in our inactive files.”
  • North Dakota’s Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring told reporters that locals were angry when the news broke about Gates’ purchase: “I’ve gotten a big earful on this from clear across the state, it’s not even from that neighborhood,” said Goehring. “Those people are upset, but there are others that are just livid about this.”
BACKGROUND:
  • The Gates-linked Red River Trust bought the farmland, according to public records cited by AgWeek.
  • The property is about 50 miles from the Canadian border and was previously owned by a potato farming group headquartered in Grafton, North Dakota.
  • Gates’ net worth is estimated at around $113 billion.