According to a recent report by NBC, Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates own the largest private farmland in the US, the farmland is about 269000 acres. Potatoes which are used to make McDonald’s French fries are grown in this land too and the farms can also be seen from space.
About the farmland
We’ve discussed about the cultivation of Potatoes for McDonald’s French fries, but then there are carrots for the world’s largest producer and onions at the grocery store. These are just a few of the numerous crops growing on the agricultural land which belongs to Bill and Melinda Gates, who are now in the midst of a divorce. The billionaire couple have accumulated more than 269,000 acres of farmland across 18 states and their Washington farms can also be seen from space.
According the land report and research on the farmland, its being told that they’ve got 70,000 acres of soybeans, corn, cotton, and rice in Louisiana; 20,000 more of soybeans in Nebraska; and 14,000 acres in Washington, including potato fields supplying McDonald’s.
About the investment in agricultural sector
According to Bill Gates, his US farmland is held both directly and through his investment group, Cascade, which was recently quoted in a New York Times investigation alleging inappropriate workplace behaviour.
Johnathan Hladik, the policy director at the Center for Rural Affairs, which investigated the Microsoft founder’s land holdings told in a recent reports that-
“Farmers just don’t own the assets anymore. Someone else owns that asset, whether it’s rented equipment or land. Someone else is building that equity on their back.”
Adding further to his statement he said that-
“When Bill Gates, or whatever other investment arm owns the land, a farmer still needs to farm it. But they’re just renting it. So if now the best farmers can do if you want to stay in farming is rent this land, you’re not going to get the benefits that come with land ownership.”
The Gateses (the Gates family), have huge farm holdings; agricultural land is being increasingly viewed as an investment commodity. More than 50% of farmers don’t own the land, and the price of crop acreage has doubled between the mid-1990s and today, to nearly $3000 an acre.
According to a recently published report, financial firms like Prudential and Hancock have specific divisions for investing in the more than 283 million acres of farmland owned and rented by nonfarmers.
Raising climate concerns and the Gateses philanthropy
Mr. Gates has said that, the farm activity is a business venture, which is separate from his climate change philanthropy, though he has stated that, his farms are a part of sustainability initiatives which is surrounding soil health in their own right.
US agriculture makes up more than 10 % of the country’s total carbon emissions, according to the USDA, and no one personally has more agriculture in their portfolio than the Gates family.
But surprisingly, the Gateses aren’t the only climate-minded billionaires with huge land holdings under their business ventures. Outgoing Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos is the 25th biggest landholder in the US and he too is planning to take his business venture further with lesser carbon emission.