AG Intervenes After Bill Gates Buys Massive Amount Of Farmland

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

North Dakota is a state filled with farms.

Farmland covers nearly 90% of North Dakota’s land area, with the average farm spanning about 1,512 acres, according to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture.

Farms in N.D. average 1,512 acres each.

North Dakota is known for its family farms, and for the farm family culture that permeates the state.

Red River Trust, according to Dunn and Bradstreet, was founded in 2010 to specialize in Trusts, has 2 employees, and estimated revenues of $89,000.

Agweek reported that Red River Trust has purchased about 2,100 acres of northern Red River Valley farmland in North Dakota in a deal quietly worked out with the owners of Campbell Farms, a potato farming group headquartered in Grafton, North Dakota last November.

Public deeds show the transaction totals about 13.5 million.

The mostly non-irrigated land in Pembina County was transferred to Ted River Trust and trustee Peter Headley.

The trust is stated as being located at 8789 Penrose Lane, Suite 400, Lenexa, Kansas which is a suburb of Kansas City.

That is the same address as Cottonwood Ag, or Cottonwood Farms and Oak River Farms/Midwest, Agweek wrote.

Agweek was unable to reach any participants in the deal for comment.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has been diversifying his tech investments with investments in land, specifically farmland.

Crosscut reported that thanks to some scrupulous digging by industry journal The Land Report, which tracks land ownership across the country, we now know that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has another feather in his multi-hyphenated career cap: America’s Top Private Owner of Farmland.

Gates has spent years quietly diversifying his $129 billion fortune through asset manager Cascade Investments to include at least 224,000 acres of U.S. farmland since at least 2014 when the acreage was rapidly increasing in value. But a few weeks ago, The Land Report Editor Eric O’Keefe revealed Gates’ field-topping stake in cropland — as well as that he’s now the 49th largest private owner of land in the country, period Crosscut wrote.

Gates’ landholdings now total 268,984 acres in 19 states. Those with the most Gates-owned land include Louisiana, Arkansas, Washington, Mississippi, Arizona, Nebraska, and Illinois.

“Farmland offers an excellent means to diversify a tech-heavy portfolio,” a source told Crosscut. “It’s a sound counterbalance with proven rates of return. In addition, given the scale of Bill Gates’s investments, he has ample opportunity to build a team of superior agricultural managers, which is precisely what one sees at Gates’ farmland firm, Cottonwood Ag Management.”

In speaking to Reddit users who were asking,” Hey Bill, why are you buying so much farmland?” gates replied,” The agriculture sector is important. with more productive seeds we can avoid deforestation and help Africa deal with the climate difficulty they already face. It is unclear how cheap biofuels can be but if they are cheap it can solve the aviation and truck emissions.”

But some are questioning the North Dakota farm purchase.

It seems there are questions as to the legal use of the land.

Agweek reported that North Dakota has an anti-corporate farming law that many people believe keeps large entities from owning farmland and keeps farmland in the control of family farms.

Agweek’s article questions the North Dakota purchase.

Daily Caller reports that the office of the Attorney General of North Dakota sent a letter Tuesday asking Red River Trust, a group with ties to billionaire Bill Gates, to prove the company’s use of the land does not violate the state’s Corporate Farming Laws.

The trust had acquired those six parcels of land in Pembina County.

“I’ve gotten a big earful on this from clear across the state, it’s not even from that neighborhood,” Agricultural Commissioner Doug Goehring, according to Valley News Live. “Those people are upset, but there are others that are just livid about this,” Daily Caller wrote.

The letter stipulated that under North Dakota law, there are “certain limitations on the ability of trusts to own farmland or ranchland.”

“The Corporate or Limited Liability Company Farming Law has certain exceptions, such as permitting registered family farms or allowing the use of the land for business purposes,” the letter continued.

According to the letter, corporations that are in violation of this law will have a year to divest themselves of the land and are subject to a civil fine of $100,000, Daily Caller wrote.

“Our office needs to confirm how your company uses this land and whether this use meets any of the statutory exceptions, such as business purpose exceptions, such as the business purpose exception, so that we may close this case and file it in our inactive files,” the letter continued.

The largest owner of farmland in the U.S. will be answering to North Dakota’s Attorney General about the structure of the trust that holds the deed, the purposes of that trust, and the intended purposes of the use of that land in Pembina county.


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