A Celebrity Just Bought $13 Million Worth Of Farmland And Not Everyone Is Happy About It

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Farmland is essential, and 97% of farmland in the United States is owned by families. The remaining 3% is owned by corporations, and sometimes it seems surprising at first who owns this land.

Bill Gates’ Red River Trust recently bought 2,100 acres of farmland in North Dakota. This land is located approximately 50 miles away from the Canadian border. The farmland was previously owned by Campbell Farms, a potato farming group.

This was far from the first time the tech guru bought up farmland. In fact, Red River Trust currently owns a total of 270,000 acres of farmland in 19 different states across the country.

North Dakota residents were far from pleased at the idea of Gates buying farmland in their state. In fact, North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring told KFYR, “I’ve got a big earful on this from clear across the state, it’s not even from that neighborhood.” He added, “Those people are upset, but there are others that are just livid about this.”

North Dakota State Attorney General Drew Wrigley sent a letter to Red River Trust’s trustee Peter Headley explaining the corporations and limited liability companies are “prohibited from owning or leasing farmland or ranchland in the state of North Dakota.” They are also prohibited from “engaging in farming or ranching.”

But, wait. This is technically a trust. Do these rules still apply? According to Wrigley’s letter, “In addition, the law places certain limitations on the ability of trusts to own farmland or ranchland.”

According to the letter, “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, so that we may close this case and file it in our inactive files.”

You might be wondering what “exceptions” could apply. North Dakota Corporate or Limited Liability Company Farming Law states that exceptions include “permitting registered family farms or allowing the use of the land for business purposes.”

So, why is Gates’ buying up farmland? During an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit, the Microsoft co-founder explained, “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 aviation and truck emissions.”

That doesn’t exactly explain how the farmland will be used in North Dakota and if the intended use violates state law. According to North Dakota law, if a corporation or LLC violates the law regarding farmland use, they can be fined $100,000 unless they unload the property within one year.