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Microsoft Founder Bill Gates Revealed as the Biggest Farmland Owner in the United States

File photo of Bill Gates. (Image: Jeff Pachoud/Getty Images)

File photo of Bill Gates. (Image: Jeff Pachoud/Getty Images)

The land is held directly and through third-party entities by Cascade Investments, Gates’ personal investment vehicle.

The co-founder and former CEO of Microsoft, Bill Gates has built up a massive farmland portfolio spanning 18 states, enough to claim the title of the biggest farmland owner in the United States.

According to the Land Report, Gates, currently the fourth richest person in the world, has quietly amassed 242,000 in farmland acreage. Gates and his wife Melinda own a total of 268,984 acres of land, most of which includes the farmland, along with 25,750 acres of transitional land and 1,234 acres of recreational land.

Research showed that Gates, who has a net worth of nearly $121 billion according to Forbes, owns the largest holdings in Louisiana (69,071 acres), Arkansas (47,927 acres), and Nebraska (20,588 acres). Additionally, he has a stake in 25,750 acres of transitional land on the west side of Phoenix, Arizona, which is being developed as a new suburb.

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The land is held directly and through third-party entities by Cascade Investments, Gates’ personal investment vehicle. Cascade’s other investments include food-safety company Ecolab, used-car retailer Vroom, and Canadian National Railway.

While it may be surprising that a tech billionaire is the biggest farmland owner in the US, this is not Gates’ only foray into agriculture. In 2008, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced $306 million in grants to promote high-yield, sustainable agriculture among smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

With 242,000 acres of farmland, the Gates family is now ahead of the rest of the top farmland owners in the country. The next largest farmland owners are the Offutt family, with 190,000 acres, and Stewart and Lynda Resnick with 190,000 acres.

The Offutt family operates a potato farm based in Fargo, North Dakota, as well as owning RDO Equipment, according to agriculture.com. Stewart and Lynda Resnick, the founders of the Wonderful Company, own acreage in California and Texas.

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While Gates may be the country’s biggest farmland owner, he is not the largest individual landowner. In its list of 100 top American landowners, The Land Report gave the top spot to Liberty Media Chair John Malone, who owns 2.2 million acres of ranches and forests.

first published:January 15, 2021, 10:43 IST