We all know that billionaire Bill Gates is interested in tech, science, and philanthropy. Did you know, however, that he also has a vested interest in farmland? That’s right: Bill Gates now owns more farmland than anyone else in America. (1)
Bill Gates Named Top Farmland Owner in America
On January 11, The Land Report released its list of the top five farmland owners in the United States. Sitting in the number one spot on this year’s list are Bill and Melinda Gates. (1)
The billionaire power couple, whose net worth is over $120 billion, owns 242,000 acres of American farmland. This makes them the top private owners of this type of land in the country. (1)
The couple own land in 18 different states; however, their largest holdings are (1):
- Louisiana, 69,071 acres
- Arkansas, 47,927 acres
- Nebraska, 20, 588 acres
They also own 25,750 acres of transitional land west of Phoenix, Arizona. Other states that have Gates-owned farmland are (1):
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
The couple holds some of the lands directly, while other portions are held by Cascade Investments, Gates’ personal investment firm. (1)
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has invested in sustainability and sustainable agriculture for quite some time. The foundation pledged $300 million in 2008 towards research to help low-income farmers in Africa and Asia adapt to climate change. Another $40 million was donated the following year to other projects helping those farmers. (2)
Neither Gates nor Cascade has said what their plans are for the farmland are. There is speculation that the land will be used for sustainable endeavors. Cottonwood Ag Management is a subsidiary of Cascade and is a member of Leading Harvest. (1, 2) This is a non-profit that prioritizes the protection of crops, soil, and water and promotes sustainable agriculture standards across the country. (3)
Other Top Farmland Owners
Spots two and three on this year’s list are actually a tie between the Offutt family and Stewart and Lynda Resnik at 190,000 acres. Just off the podium are the Fanjul family with 160,000 acres and the Boswell family with 150,000 acres of land. (1)
All of this said, though Bill Gates owns the most farmland in the United States, he is not the biggest private landowner overall. That position goes to Liberty Media Chair John Malone, who owns 2.2 million acres of forests and ranches. (4)
- “Bill Gates: America’s Top Farmland Owner.” The Land Report. Eric OKeefe. January 11, 2021.
- “America’s Biggest Owner Of Farmland Is Now Bill Gates.” Forbes. Ariel Shapiro. January 14, 2021.
- “Grow Confidently.” Leading Harvest.
- “Bill Gates owns 242,000 acres of farmland, making him America’s biggest private-farmland owner, according to a new report.” Business Insider. Kate Duffy. January 15, 2021.