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Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, US.: Midday clouds. Photo credit: Linhao Zhang

Buying farmland: Bill Gates is ‘not welcome’ in North Dakota

The billionaire is considered the largest owner of farmland in the United States. This puts him in a "unique position to harm conventional agriculture," according to a Spanish newspaper. Resistance is therefore growing in North Dakota.

Published: June 28, 2022, 12:51 pm

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    “Farmer Bill is now the largest private owner of agricultural land in the USA,” the British Daily Mail headlined its article on Gates’ expansion into agriculture in January 2021. The 65-year-old tech billionaire owns 242 000 hectares of agricultural land in 18 states.

    The largest lands are in Louisiana, Arkansas, Arizona and Nebraska. In total, Gates owns 268 984 hectares of land of all kinds, including in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona, which he wants to transform into a “smart city”, according to Spanish daily Vision Times.

    But Gates is not the only ultra-rich who knows what it takes to control the food industry and, by extension, people. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and media mogul Ted Turner are heavily involved in buying up US farmland, as the media portal Agrarheute announced .

    The fact that Bill Gates is currently encountering obstacles when acquiring a large amount of farmland in North Dakota, as reported by the online portal Vision Times, is therefore to be seen as positive news by many.

    The Red River Trust, which is affiliated with Bill Gates, has bought six properties in Pembina County in northeastern North Dakota – on the border with Canada and Minnesota, Vision Times reported. But then “many dissatisfied neighbors” complained about his land purchases, and the Attorney General intervened.

    The Attorney General’s office wrote on June 21 requesting the Trust to provide evidence that the use of the land did not violate the Corporate Farm Bills.

    Because under North Dakota law, there are “certain restrictions” on trusts that own farm or ranch land. These laws relate, among other things, to “permitting the use of land for commercial purposes”. Those who do not comply with these laws have one year to part with the property. He also faces a $100 000 civil fine, Vision Times noted.

    “Our authority needs to ascertain how your company intends to use this property and whether this use falls under one of the statutory exceptions, such as e.g. B. the exemption for commercial purposes,” the letter stated.

    As a result, the Gates Trust has 30 days after receiving the letter to demonstrate how it intends to use the land “lawfully,” according to the Vision Times. Gates is “not welcome” in North Dakota, the portal added. State residents have expressed “dissatisfaction” with the land purchase.

    “I’ve received a lot of complaints from across the state,” North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring is quoted as saying.

    While selling land to a billionaire is neither illegal nor unlawful, many people feel disadvantaged by “tycoons” who buy land in North Dakota but don’t necessarily share “the values ​​of the state”.

    Finally, Vision Times examined Gates’ ulterior motives with regard to these land purchases. The portal also pointed out the fact that the multi-billionaire is now the largest private farmland owner in the USA. In recent years he has made “significant” investments, such as in the so-called “100 Circles Farm” in northwestern Washington State, which is easy to see even from the air.

    And Gates’ involvement in agriculture is not a good sign: as early as February of this year , the ostentatious do-gooder propagated that industrialized countries should in future give up meat and switch to synthetic substitutes. He justified this demand with the “pollutant emissions from cattle breeding”.

    One could get used to the difference in taste, Gates said, and even suggested “introducing legislation to shift demand”. His diktats are all the more surprising seeing that he himself is neither vegetarian nor vegan, according to the report.

    In any case, Gates is in the “unique position to harm conventional agriculture,” the online portal highlighted. Because he could prevent ranchers from letting their cows graze on his extensive properties. This would significantly increase the supply pressure on farmers and ultimately lead to an increase in the price of beef in supermarkets, among other consequences.

    “Will Bill Gates be able to keep investing a fortune buying US farms?” asked the Vision Times. This will depend on the individual states and on how political decision-makers and the population react to the appropriation of the farmland, the portal concluded. They have the power to stop him.

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