By: April Carson
While Bill Gates was made his money in technology, he is now investing heavily in agriculture. In fact, Gates recently won legal approval to buy a large amount of farmland in North Dakota.
Last week, Gates received the necessary legal approval for acquiring 2,100 acres of farmland from Campbell Farms in northeastern North Dakota's potato growing sector.
Of course, Gates has previously invested in the asset class. Having acquired nearly 270,000 acres of farmland across numerous states, Gates is already the nation's largest private landowner.
This is significant because Gates is not the only tech mogul who is interested in buying up farmland. In recent years, there has been a trend of wealthy individuals from the tech industry investing in agriculture. This trend has caused some concern because it could lead to small farmers being pushed out of business.
However, Gates has stated that he plans to use his farmland for charitable purposes. He intends to donate the land to universities and research organizations so that they can use it for agricultural research. This is good news for those who are concerned about the trend of tech moguls buying up farmland. It shows that not all of them are interested in simply making a profit; some are interested in helping to improve the agriculture industry as a whole.
The purchase of farmlands in North Dakota by Bill Gates, as well as other corporations and limited liability companies, has prompted worries since to a Depression-era legislation that bans businesses and LLCs from owning agricultural land in the state.
Many residents, according to the Agriculture Commissioner of North Dakota Doug Goehring, were not pleased by the announcement.
“I've gotten a lot of feedback on this from all around the state, and it isn't even from my neighborhood. Those people are furious, but there are others who are just enraged about it," said Geohring.
The reason for the anger is due to a law put in place during the Great Depression which was meant to keep large businesses from buying up farmland and evicting farmers. This law, according to Goehring, is still relevant today.
"It's not just about Mr. Gates. It's about any out-of-state, big business coming in and buying up North Dakota farmlands," said Goehring.
Individual trusts, on the other hand, are permitted to own farmland if it is leased to farmers under the anti-corporate farming legislation. That's what Bill Gates' company intends to do.
North Dakota's Attorney General sent a letter to the parent company on Wednesday stating that the acquisition complied with the law.
"This is good news for our state," said Governor Doug Burgum. "It's another example of how we are continuing to attract investment and create opportunities in North Dakota."
People will always need to eat, no matter what happens in the economy. That makes farmland intrinsically valuable. It turns out that Gates’ close friend Warren Buffett also likes the asset.
Buffett invested in a 160-acre farm in Nebraska in 1986, according to his remarks. “I didn't need any special knowledge or brains to figure out that the investment had no risk and potential for big payoff,” Buffett wrote later.
Buffett has previously said that farmland is one of the two assets he'd purchase instead of Bitcoin at Berkshire's annual meeting earlier this year.
"If you offer me a one percent interest in all of the farmland in the United States for $25 billion, I'll cash you a check right now," he added.
While the super-rich have been buying farmland, you don't need to be a billionaire to join the fun.
Acres in the United States can be bought for as little as $1,000 an acre.
And there are plenty of reasons to do so, even if you're not a farmer.
Farmland is a tangible asset that can't be printed or created out of thin air like Bitcoin.
"There are a lot of millionaires and even some multimillionaires buying farmland," said Kevin Folta, a professor of horticultural sciences at the University of Florida.
Real estate investment trusts (REITs) that trade on the open market — specializing in farm ownership — allow you to do so with as little money as you're prepared to invest. You don't have to know how to operate the farm, either; all you have to do is sit back and collect the dividend cheques.
The largest farmland owner in the US is Landco Industries (LAND), which owns 164 farms covering 113,000 acres. It pays monthly payments of $0.0454 per share, for a total annual dividend yield of 2.5 percent.
There's also Farmland Partners (FPI), a REIT with a farmland portfolio of 185,000 acres and an annual dividend yield of 1.8%.
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
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