According to The Land Report, a magazine for land investors tracking America’s biggest farm owners, Bill Gates is now the owner of some of the most covetable land in the United States. When this was revealed, people began asking whether he was pursuing a plan to help people, or could there be another explanation?
Currently the fourth richest man in the world, Gates’ portfolio includes around 242,000 acres of farmland and nearly 27,000 acres of other land across 18 states in the U.S. The land he owns is also abundant with moisture and unrivaled soil profiles, like the Eastern Washington farmland in the Horse Heaven Hills of Benton County he bought for almost $171 million – almost $12,000 per acre. The Horse Heaven Hills is also, a region prepped as a commercial hub for agricultural purposes: controlled atmosphere storage, state-of-the-art transportation infrastructure, and ready access to low-cost hydro-power. (Note: He is not the biggest private landowner in the US, he is the biggest farm owner).
Neither is he the only billionaire to be a huge private owner; Wonderful company co-founders Stewart and Lynda Resnick are number three on the list for largest farm holdings and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos owns 420 000 acres of land in West Texas.
The Lure of Land
According to Forbes, farmland is an attractive asset class for professional investors since it has had mostly positive returns from the early 1990s. This is because investors can make money from the annual cash rent that farmers pay to use the land and steady increases in land values. Professional investors in farmland also benefit from the supply versus demand ratio and the asset stability this produces.