However, the $13.5 million deal was first tested by an old anti-corporate farm ownership law.
By Andrew Joseph, Farms.com
Poor Bill Gates—three words we never thought we’d hear—and now it doesn’t matter.
After obtaining a secured legal approval for his Red River Trust company to purchase 2,100 acres of farmland for $13.5 million dollars in two counties from North Dakota potato growers Campbell Farms, the deal was thrust under scrutiny.
The deal had been held up after the State’s residents complained about being exploited by the rich, citing a 1932 anti-corporate farm ownership law.
The law prohibits corporations or limited liability companies from owning farmland or ranchland, but allows individual trusts to own the land if it is leased to farmers.
However, after state Attorney General Drew Wrigley looked into it, he issued a letter saying the sale and purchase complied with the law, because Gates will be leasing the land back to farmers.
Farmer Gates is already the largest private owner of farmland in the US, with 270,000 acres already owned across dozens of states, including 69,071 acres in Louisiana, 47,927 acres in Arkansas, 25,750 acres in Arizona, 20,588 acres in Nebraska, and 16,097 in Washington state.
Note, that this is just for farmland. The leader private ownership of land (regardless of use) in total is the American Chairman of Liberty Media, John Malone, who owns 2.2 million acres.
While Gates’ farmland holdings are impressive, it only accounts for just about one percent of all the 900 million acres of total farmland in the country.
The purchase of the land in North Dakota had raised legal questions as well as concerns that ultrarich landowners do not share the state's values.
The purchase and sale had already raised the hackles of the North Dakota residents who wondered why the potato farm owners, the Campbell family, had filed a partnership name certificate in February of 2022 with the Secretary of State renaming their farming operation as Red River Trust—which is the same name as the purchasing firm owned by Bill Gates.
To clear up any sign of collusion, the Gates’ attorney informed the Attorney General’s office that the partnership name registration was done by the Campbell family without the knowledge of Bill Gates.
But, it is not known why the Campbell family applied for the partnership name registration as Red River Trust.
Regardless, the deal has gone through, and Bill Gates has added another 2,100 acres of farmland to his portfolio. That’s no small potatoes.