Bill Gates was the first American to own the majority of private farms. But he’s not the only one. Some of the most powerful landowners in America, including John Malone, Jeff Bezos, and Thomas Peterffy, are purchasing forests, ranches, and farmlands throughout the United States. How come? You can find out in the video.
As people look for ways to increase their wealth, they are increasingly investing in farms.
Gates became the U.S.’s largest private farmer in 2020. In less than 10 years, Gates had acquired more than 269,000 acres in 18 states. His farmland grows onions, carrots and even the potatoes that are used to make McDonald’s French fries.
“It’s an asset with increasing value,” American Farmland Trust CEO John Piotti said. “It has great intrinsic value and beyond that, it is a limited resource.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 30% of all farmland is owned by landlords who don’t farm themselves. Land is often purchased from long-term farmers, many who may have a lot of assets but not much cash.
“The economic realities for them are typical that they’ve spent their life farming,” said Holly Rippon-Butler, land campaign director at the National Young Farmers Coalition. “Their retirement, their equity is all in the land and tied up in selling land.”
Many ways that land can be used by private owners are making them a profitable business. Approximately 39% of the 911 million acres of farmland across the U.S. is rented out to farmers, and 80% of that rented farmland is owned by landlords who don’t farm themselves data from the Agriculture Department shows.
“The young farmers are just as happy to lease the land because whether you are young or old, it’s a business, right?” said Thomas Petterfy, chairman of Interactive Brokers and owner of 581,000 acres.
“You go buy a farm and you put that cash rental lease in place, you’re going to be looking at about 2.5% return on your capital,” Peoples Company President Steve Bruere said.
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Bill Gates is Buying the U.S. Farmland