Bill Gates’s purchase of 2,100 acres of North Dakota farmland sparks outrage

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Bill Gates’s purchase of 2,100 acres of North Dakota farmland sparks outrage

A group tied to billionaire Bill Gates has recently purchased 2,100 acres of prime North Dakota farmland, and some in the state are concerned that they are being exploited by the ultra-wealthy.

Gates owns some 269,000 acres in dozens of states, according to the Land Report 100, an annual survey of the nation's largest landowners last year. The co-founder of Microsoft is considered to be the largest private owner of farmland in the U.S. He owns less than 1% of the nation's total farmland.

A Depression-era law was intended to protect family farms.

North Dakota's attorney general asked the trust involved in the purchase to explain how it plans to use the land in order to meet the rules outlined in the state's anti-corporate farming law.

With some exceptions, the law prohibits all corporations or limited liability companies from owning or leasing farmland or ranchland.

North Dakota Republican Attorney General Drew Wrigley told The Associated Press Thursday that he doesn't know that it's quite as volatile a situation as some have depicted. It's taken off, it's all over the planet, but it's not me sticking a finger in the eye of Bill Gates. The state's agriculture commissioner, Republican Doug Goehring, told a North Dakota TV station that some residents feel they are being exploited by the ultra-rich who buy land but do not necessarily share the state's values.

I ve gotten a big earful on this from clear across the state, but it is not even from that neighborhood. The people are upset, but there are others who are just livid about this, Goehring told KFYR.

Goehring, who is currently on a state-sponsored trade mission to the United Kingdom, did not respond immediately to a list of questions emailed by the AP.

Charles V. Zehren, a spokesman for Gates' investment firm, didn't want to give a statement to the AP.

It is standard for the attorney general's office to send an inquiry when notified of farmland sales.