Over the past ten years, Bill Gates has purchased some 110,000 hectares of farmland in 18 US states The billionaire has become the nation’s largest landowner, according to an investigation by NBC News and The Land Report.
According to the media, in almost 30,000 of the hectares in the state of Louisiana belonging to the founder of Microsoft, farmers grow corn, cotton and rice, while in the 8,000 hectares in Nebraska, soybeans. In Washington, the billionaire owns 14,000 hectares of fields, some of which grow potatoes for McDonald’s.
NBC recalls that Gates regularly invests in fighting climate change and supports sustainable food production, including meat substitute startups and plant-based alternatives.
However, the billionaire himself assures that the purchase of land was not related to his environmental activities.
“My investment group decided to do it. It has nothing to do with the weather,” the businessman explained during a question and answer session on Reddit when asked about his land purchase.
Holly Rippon-Butler, director of the National Coalition of Emerging Farmers in New York, criticized Gates for buying so much land. The expert believes that this prevents young farmers from entering the market: they cannot compete with the billionaire when it comes to buying land and they are forced to rent it.
Gates has also been accused of using so-called shell companies to acquire this amount of land. According to the investigation, its holding company Cascade Investments did not acquire the land directly, but through a network of at least 22 local firms. They have not officially announced the cooperation with the billionaire’s company, but they have the same legal address, employee list, and sometimes even email.