Bill Gates is now the biggest private owner of farmland in the United States owning 2,42,000 acre across the country.
Gates, the founder of Microsoft and the fourth richest person in the world, owns farmland in 18 states in the US – either directly or through deals by his Cascade Investments with third-party entities, according to The Land Report.
Moneycontrol could not independently verify the report.
His portfolio includes farmland in Arkansas (47,927 acre), Arizona (25,750 acre), California (4,905 acre), Colorado (2,270 acre), Florida (14,828), Idaho (9,233 acre), Illinois (17,940 acre), Iowa (522 acre), Michigan (2,167 acre), Mississippi (16,963 acre), Nebraska (20,588 acre), New Mexico (1 acre), North Carolina (874 acre), Ohio (8,915 acre), Washington (16,097 acre), Wisconsin (1,188 acre), Wyoming (975 acre).
Apart from Gates, the report said other billionaire private farmland owners include Stewart Resnick and Lynda Resnick, co-founders of Wonderful Company who own 190,000 acres engaged in producing goods such as Wonderland Halos mandarins, Wonderful Pistachios, and POM Wonderful for their brand.
Forbes noted the move into agriculture is not surprising. In 2008, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced $306 million worth grants for farmers in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Besides this, the foundation has also invested in the “development and proliferation of climate change-resistant ‘super crops’ for which it created an NGO called Gates Ag One,” Forbes added.
While it is yet unclear how Gates is using his farmland, Forbes noted that Gates Ag One and Cascade subsidiary Cottonwood Ag Management (which promotes sustainable agricultural practices to protect soil, water resources, and crop), indicate what the purpose could be.
Cascade Investments did not respond to queries, it added.