Billionaire Bill Gates has won a legal battle that now allows him to purchase millions of dollars worth of pristine farmland in North Dakota. Although residents of the state are furious that the ultra-rich founder of Windows will be allowed to purchase so much land in their state, they can do nothing to stop Gates from buying up the property because he won a legal battle that now allows him to buy the land.
North Dakota’s Attorney General Drew Wrigley, a Republican, looked into the land purchases by Bill Gates and found it to be totally legal and binding according to a very old anticorporate farming law that the state still operates by in 2022.
The law, which was created during the Great Depression, forbids corporations or limited liability companies from owning farmland or ranch space in the state of North Dakota. However, the law still allows trusts to own land so long as it is a lease to farmers, which is exactly what Bill Gates plans to do with the land.
The law states that corporations and the like cannot purchase land “for residential or commercial development; the siting of buildings, plants, facilities, industrial parks, or similar business or industrial purposes of the corporation or limited liability company; or for uses supportive of or ancillary to adjacent nonagricultural land for the benefit of both land parcels.”
Bill Gates has quietly amassed hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland across the United States over the last few years. Because of his farmland acquisitions, Bill Gates is considered the to be the largest private owner of farmland in the entire country of America.
Gates bought millions of dollars worth of property in North Dakota from the wealthy northeastern North Dakota potato growers Campbell Farms. His company, Red River Trust, purchased the land for $13.5 million. The land is spread across two counties.
According to a report from AgWeek, Bill Gates received more than 2,100 acres as part of the land deal.
Meanwhile, local Republicans are furious that Bill Gates and other ultra-rich people are purchasing land in the state. These Republicans fear that the new owners of their state will not share the same values that most people in the state share.
“I’ve gotten a big earful on this from clear across the state. It’s not even from that neighborhood,” North Dakota’s Agriculture Commissioner, Republican Doug Goehring, told KFYR-TV. “Those people are upset, but there are others that are just livid about this.”
Gates plans to lease the land to potato growers. He has no plans to build anything on the land or use it for any purpose other than farming.
The fact that Bill Gates is allowed to purchase so much land in North Dakota highlights how difficult it is for small farmers and ranchers to compete against big money interests in the United States. The playing field is not level, and it is tilted in favor of the rich and famous.
Do you think that Bill Gates should be allowed to purchase so much farmland in North Dakota?