On January 11 during an online forum at Reddit.com, Bill Gates took more than a dozen questions posed by curious Redditors on a variety of topics that ranged from becoming a grandfather to what brand of smartphone he uses. (A Samsung Fold 4.) Not surprisingly, one of the many Q&As concerned his extensive farmland portfolio, the largest nationwide in private hands.
America’s Largest Farmland Owner
Two years ago, The Land Report singled out the Microsoft co-founder as America’s largest private farmlandowner. The 2020 Land Report 100 determined that his total ownership via Cottonwood Ag Management included 242,000 acres of farmland. In addition, he owned more than 26,000 acres of transitional and recreational land. In the 2022 Land Report 100, his agricultural holdings were deemed to have increased by an estimated 6,000 acres in North Dakota, pushing his total ag holdings to 248,000 acres nationwide. Combined with his recreational holdings in Wyoming and development tracts in the Greater Phoenix area, his property portfolio in more than a dozen states totals an estimated 275,000 acres, a figure that ranks him No. 41 nationally. Other private landowners with 275,000 acres include the Babbitts of Arizona, Texas’s Jones family, and the descendants of Floyd and Frances Lee, who own the historic Manuel Chávez Ranch in Western New Mexico.
Ask Me Anything on Reddit
Gates has been a regular participant in the popular “Ask Me Anything” sessions on Reddit. In fact, 2023 marked his 11th time to take part in an “Ask Me Anything.” From healthcare to taxation and artificial intelligence, Redditors broached a variety of topics with the Seattle native. One in particular asked why he was “buying up so much farmland?”
In response, Gates wrote, “I own less than 1/4,000 of the farmland in the US. I have invested in these farms to make them more productive and create more jobs. There isn’t some grand scheme involved.”
Gates added that his land acquisitions — including the 2018 purchase of 14,500 acres in Eastern Washington for $171 million — “are overseen by a professional investment team,” a reference to Cascade Investments LLC, his personal investment portfolio which has been overseen by Michael Larson since 1994.