Thursday, January 13, 2022

Gates is nation's largest farmland owner for 2nd year in row

A timber baron and a philanthropist now own more land in the U.S. than any other American, according to a new report showing the top 100 landowners in the United States. Tech maven Bill Gates remained largest owner of farmland for the second year in a row, Eric O'Keefe reports for Successful Farming. O'Keefe unveiled the Land Report 100 at the 2022 Land Expo in Des Moines Jan. 11.

"In 2021, California’s Emmerson family, owners of Sierra Pacific Industries, acquired 175,000 acres in Oregon from Seneca Jones Timber. That transaction, which was announced on Oct. 1, raised the family’s holdings to more than 2.33 million deeded acres," O'Keefe reports. "Liberty Media Chairman John Malone ranked No. 2 with 2.2 million acres of ranchland out West and timberland holdings in the Northeast. Washington’s Reed family ranked No. 3 with 2.1 million acres. CNN founder Ted Turner ranked No. 4 with 2 million acres. Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke ranked fifth with 1,627,500 acres. In recent years, Kroenke Ranches has become a major player in the renewable energy sector and is on track to be able to power more than 1 million households." Jeff Bezos of Amazon came in 24th with 420,000 acres, mostly in rural Texas.

Gates, founder of Microsoft, took 47th place for overall land ownership with 268,984 acres, but owns the most farmland in the U.S. "Instead of what he bought, of note in 2021 was what Microsoft’s cofounder did not buy: Easterday Farms and Ranches," O'Keefe reports. "The extensive operations in eastern Washington were at the center of a megamillion-dollar scam that defrauded Tyson Foods, among others. At a bankruptcy court auction, Farmland Reserve paid $209 million, outbidding an investment company owned by Gates by $1 million."

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