Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and fourth-richest person in the world, owns farmland in 18 US states from Washington to Florida.
The Microsoft cofounder and philanthropist Bill Gates
owns 242,000 acres of farmland in the US, making him the largest private-farmland owner, an analysis by The Land Report found.
Gates, whose net worth of nearly $121 billion makes him the world's fourth-richest person, and his wife, Melinda Gates
, hold an extensive farmland portfolio stretching over 18 states, according to The Land Report.
The Gates family's biggest holdings are in Louisiana (69,071 acres), Arkansas (47,927 acres), and Nebraska (20,588 acres), the report said.
Their farmland is held both directly and through Cascade Investment, a firm controlled by Gates to manage his investments, according to The Land Report.
Gates also owns several thousand acres of transitional land. The Arizona Republic reported in 2017 that about 25,000 acres near Phoenix that Cascade Investment bought a "significant stake" in were being transformed into a suburb with space for 80,000 homes; more than 4,000 acres for schools, offices, and stores; and 3,400 acres of open space.
Gates' farmland ownership isn't entirely surprising. In 2017, the Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation pledged $300 million over three years to support research to help low-income farmers in Asia and Africa adapt to climate change.
The following year, the Gates Foundation announced it would invest $40 million in research to help breed chickens that lay better-quality eggs and cows that produce more milk for farms in South Asia and Africa.
Runners-up in The Land Report's rankings were the Offutt family, whose history in farming dates back to 1964, with 190,000 acres.
Stewart and Lynda Resnick, the cofounders of the investment firm the Wonderful Company, also own 190,000 acres of farmland in the US, according to The Land Report. They own the brand behind Wonderful Pistachios, POM Wonderful, and Wonderful Halos Mandarins.
Though Gates is the US's top farmland owner, according to The Land Report, he's far from the biggest landowner. The top spot in The Land Report's list of the 100 largest US landowners in 2019 belonged to John Malone, the billionaire businessman, landowner, and philanthropist, with 2.2 million acres of land.