Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, along with wife Melinda, is now America’s leading farmland owner.
Climate change? Experiments with synthetic beef? Exploration into improving seeds? Not necessarily.
Gates said the strategy is more about investing, though there’s a little more to it.
During an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on Reddit (promoting his book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster”), the billionaire talked farmland.
According to the AGFunder News site, a user asked him “Hey, Bill! Why are you buying so much farmland?”
Gates said seed science and biofuel development were the main drivers of acquisitions, though his climate beliefs were not a reason for the recent land transactions.
“My investment group chose to do this. It is not connected to climate,” he wrote.
The land is owned through a private investment company, Cascade Investment, which also owns shares in artificial meat company Beyond Meat and John Deere.
And, on the money side, it can’t help but pay off.
Cascade’s Michael Larson was brought in a couple of decades ago to invest the Gates fortune and grow it. Land, obviously, is finite and always in demand.
The Land Report named Bill and Melinda Gates as the top private owners of American farmland by area, with 242,000 acres throughout 19 states including Louisiana (69,071 acres), Arkansas (47,927 acres) and Arizona (25,750 acres).
The holdings are worth more than $690 million – but that’s a tiny part of the Gates’ estimated $128 billion net worth.
Bill and Melinda Gates aren’t hoarders, either, having given away $35 billion and counting.
The couple’s foundation has an agricultural innovation project, Gates Ag One, to help “smallholder farmers in developing countries, many of whom are women… sustainably improve crop productivity and adapt to the effects of climate change.”