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Bill Gates is well known for the founding of Microsoft and charitable work at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, but in recent years he’s made headlines for his large ownership of farmland across the United States.
Many pundits and average Americans have been wondering why he owns so much land considering his background in technology and charity work.
This article will break down why Gates has bought some much land, how much he paid for it, and if he’s the largest farmland owner in the United States.
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Why Is Bill Gates Buying Farmland?
Bill Gates ownership of over 250,000 acres of farmland has left many wondering why he owns so much considering his background in technology.
He has addressed publicly that this ownership isn’t due to climate change but due rather to developments in seed science and biofuel development. Much of his farmland is pioneered by Cascade Investments, a Washington-based asset manager which manages his large fortune and the Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation’s endowment.
Through Gates’ own admissions and speculation by experts, some of they key reasons for his ownership have become clear. These are the 6 key reasons why Gates and his asset manager are buying farmland.
A major reason for Bill Gates’ ownership of farmland is because it’s a great investment. Farmland serves as an inflation hedge as food prices rise, so do farm revenues. Farmland is also less volatile because the underlying value of land can appreciate and it enjoys income from farmer rents. Farmland is also less correlated with the stock market so it serves as a source of diversification.
2. Seed Science
As Bill Gates himself has publicly said, a main reason for farmland investment is developments in seed science. As seed technology improves, including improved genetic modification of seeds, farm yields can improve and the cost efficiency of farming practices can improve.
New seed science can produce crops that are resistant to drought, pests, diseases, and weeds. Farmers will be able to produce more with fewer resources. Maximizing yield potential allows farmers to grow more with less land, water, fertilizer, and labor.
Seed technology developments on American farms on Gates’ lands can serve as test grounds for new seed technology which can then be exported abroad to help third world countries which Gates’ Foundation has worked to help with food production.
3. Biofuel Development
Bill Gates has also said that a reason for farmland ownership is biofuel development. Through newly developed biofuel innovations, new sources of fuel for vehicles and commercial uses could be utilized to replace fossil fuels like oil. For example, biofuel, which is ethanol made from plants like corn and barley, could be an effective replacement for gas.
New advancements in biofuel would make farming more sustainable and effective while helping the environment. Once again, farms on his lands could be test grounds for international farmland.
4. Food Innovation
As mentioned, Cascade Investments manage the farmland Bill Gates own and they’re also shareholders in plant-based food companies including Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.
Farmland owned by Bill Gates could be used for production of plants used at these protein companies in the future if they aren’t already now.
5. Technological Innovation
Gates Ag One, a non-profit charity which is owned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is focused on increasing access to Agri-Tech. This new agricultural technology develops farming tools which increases crop yields and efficiency.
Farmlands in the United States could benefit from agri-tech as well, keeping with the theme of increasing crop yields and conditions for farming to increase overall food production. Like with biofuel development and seed science, new agri-tech like farming data tools to help analyze the best conditions for certain crops and to create more crops would benefit global farming practices.
Another example of agri-tech is super crops which are impervious to climate change and could improve the yield of dairy cows.
6. Carbon Neutrality
Farmland can also help sustainable portfolios meet carbon neutrality targets while serving as an excellent source of revenue. With its diversification and income production, farmland investing can be profitable and a peg for a sustainable investing philosophy.
Between the innovations being developed in Agri-Tech, biofuel, and seed science, Gates has the opportunity to earn excellent returns with farmland investment while improving environmental impact and testing new sustainable practices for global farming.
Is Bill Gates The Largest Farmland Owner?
Bill Gates is the largest private owner of farmland in the United States in 2022 owning over 268,000 acres of farmland.
He is not the largest land owner in the United States, the Emmerson Family owns the most land with over 2,330,000 acres of land.
Gates also does not own the majority of farmland in the United States as there are 915 million acres of farmland in the country, making 268,000 a smaller piece of total ownership.
How Many Acres Does Bill Gates Own?
Bill Gates owns over 268,000 acres of private farmland across the United States, according to the Land Report. This ownership makes Bill Gates the largest private owner of farmland.
How Much Did Bill Gates Pay for Land?
Bill Gates’ farmland is worth over $690 million and he has fought hard to acquire more land in recent years. For example, he paid $171 million for 14,500 acres of farmland in Washington in 2018.
In Which States Does Bill Gates Own Farmland?
According to the Land Report, Bill Gates owns farmland in the following 19 states. The top 5 states by acreage ownership are Louisiana, Arkansas, Nebraska, Arizona, and Illinois, in descending order.
|Acres Per State
By now it should be clear why Bill Gates is the country’s largest private farmland owner. His farmland ownership serves as an excellent investment, with new agri-tech innovations he believes he can improve crop yields and efficiency, and farmland in the U.S. can serve as a testing ground for new farming innovations across the globe.
While many people are critical of Bill Gates’ farmland ownership, he may be able to do some good through his work and increase global food production significantly.