By Jenna Hoffman, June 28, 2022
Farmland prices continue to soar, as a new record Iowa land sale occurred in Dubuque County, Iowa last week with High Point Land Company claiming it auctioned off 60 acres for $30,000 per acre.
With the financial stakes so high, who can afford to make these big money moves?
Amassed with a newly purchased 2,100-acre farm in North Dakota, Bill Gates’ Red River Trust now holds the title of a cool 270,000 acres of land across the U.S.
However, AgDay reports the tech moguls’ entrance into North Dakota, at a cost of $6,000 per acre, might not be the warm welcome he may have received in other states.
North Dakota hosts “corporate farming laws” that barres corporations and limited liability companies from owning and leasing farms and ranches.
With the Gates’s new $13.5 million farmland purchase, North Dakotans—including the attorney general—are concerned the sale violates the state’s law.
The North Dakota attorney general’s office sent a letter to the Red River Trust on Tuesday, alerting the trustee of the North Dakota land law.
“Our office needs to confirm how your company uses this land and whether this use meets any of the statutory exceptions, such as the business purpose exception,” wrote Drew Wrigley, North Dakota attorney general.
The attorney general has not yet released a response from the Red River Trust.
A Dose of Perspective
The Microsoft cofounder isn’t far ahead in the private farmland ownership charts.
As of 2022, Gates sits on the farmland list among other celebrities mixed with a few farmers:
- Bill Gates: 270,000 acres in 19 states, with his largest holdings in Louisiana (69,100 acres), Arkansas (48,000 acres) and Nebraska (20,500 acres).
- Ted Turner: Founder of CNN who owns over 200,00 acres in Nebraska, Kansas, Montana, South Dakota and New Mexico.
- Stewart and Lynda Resnick: Owners of Wonderful. The two boast 192,000 acres in California and Texas.
- Offutt family: Owners of RDO Equipment, also own 190,000 acres in North Dakota, where they primarily grow potatoes.
- Fanjul family: Florida Crystals Corp. owners tend 152,000 acres of sugarcane production in South Florida.
- Boswell family: Owners of the JG Bowell Tomato Company that tend to 150,000 acres of tomatoes and cotton in Central California.
- Stan Kroenke: Real estate mogul and owner of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment who owns 124,000 acres in Montana.
- Gaylon Lawrence Jr: CEO of the Lawrence Group who owns 115,000 acres from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
- John Molone: Founder of TCI—a company he later sold to AT&T for a cool $50 billion—hosts 100,000 acres in Colorado, Wyoming, Maine and New Mexico—land thatincludes various well-known ranches.
- Simplot family: Operate 82,500 acres in Idaho and Washington including potato production and cattle feedlots.