Editing by Huang Sheng & NBSP;
Bill Gates, the former richest man in the US, has become the largest private owner of farmland in the country this year, but his motives for buying so much farmland have recently been questioned, according to Thepaper.cn.
South Dakota Congressman Dusty Johnson has demanded that Bill Gates explain why he bought large amounts of farmland in the US while telling Americans not to eat meat.
Dusty Johnson, 45, is a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, a South Dakota Republican who is considered a leader on issues related to rural America, Agriculture, livestock and welfare reform. Mr Johnson told Fox News in the US that Bill Gates was buying up farmland in order to artificially inflate the price of red meat. Gates' goal is to make beef prohibitively expensive, forcing people to eat artificial meat in the near future.
Gates already owns about 268,984 acres of farmland in the United States, an area larger than the entire city of New York. The farmland is spread across 19 states, with the top five being Louisiana (69,071 acres), Arkansas (47,927 acres), Arizona (25,750 acres), Nebraska (20,588 acres), and Mississippi (16,963 acres), with farmland valued at about $690 million.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates has won approval from the North Dakota Attorney General's office to buy 2,100 acres of farmland in the state worth $13.5 million, The Business Daily previously reported. Bill Gates' purchase of farmland has sparked complaints from local residents and farmers and led to the intervention of the state's top prosecutor.
The National Business Daily noted that this is not the first time Gates has invested in land in the US. He has already purchased nearly 270,000 acres (about 1,100 square kilometers) of land in 19 states. However, this is only 1% of the total agricultural land in the US, and Gates is now the largest private farmland owner in the US.
The purchases include Louisiana, Arkansas, Nebraska, Arizona, Mississippi, Indiana, Washington and the southern states of Florida, according to the report. The land, spread across 19 states, includes farmland for vegetables such as carrots, soybeans and potatoes, NBC reported. In Washington state, for example, Gates owns more than 14,000 acres of farmland, including huge fields of potatoes that can be seen from space, some of which he supplies to McDonald's.
When the North Dakota land purchase was approved, Gates' land holdings expanded again. According to data released by the 2021 Land Report 100, Gates has acquired farmland across more than a dozen states over the past few years, including 242,000 acres of farmland, 1,234 acres of recreational land and 25,750 acres of other land in transition from farmland to residential and commercial use. The North Dakota purchase will bring its total land holdings to more than 270,000 acres, an area the size of three Berlins.
Data show that more than 97 percent of American farms are now owned by families, with the remainder owned by corporations. Today, Gates is not only the fourth-richest person in the world, he is also the largest private farmland owner in the United States, according to the Land Report 100.
But since the 2021 report showed that Mr. Gates had begun buying land, a growing number of farmers have expressed unease in blog posts and on social media. Gates later responded on Reddit, saying, "Agriculture is important to us. With more high-yielding seeds, we can avoid deforestation and we can help Africa deal with the climate problems that they have been facing for years."
Us media reported that although Gates is the largest private owner of farmland in the US, he is not the largest landowner in the country. The largest landowner in the United States is another billionaire, John Malone, known as the "Godfather of American cable television," who owns 2.2 million acres (8,900 square kilometers) of land across the country.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos also owns 420,000 acres (about 1,700 square kilometers) of land. In addition to farmland, Bezos also has a lot of forest and uncultivated land. Us media magnate Ted Turner and US businessman Thomas Peterffy, ranked 65th on the 2021 Forbes List of the world's richest people with a fortune of $25 billion, are among the top landowners in the US.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 39 percent of landowners do not farm their own land but lease it to farmers. Eighty percent of those who do not farm are investors. Obviously, the cash flow from rent is a significant direct income for many investment in agricultural land. Second, as farmland, crop yields are also one of the main returns, especially for the farmers who actually farm the land. Some people buy agricultural land as a relatively stable value-added investment, while it is used as a place for vacation and leisure. Some people use their farms as a place to celebrate weddings, birthdays and other celebrations.
Moreover, the average value of farmland in the US, adjusted for inflation, has generally risen since 1993, from less than $1,500 an acre in the mid-1990s to more than $3,000 an acre in 2020.