This blog on Texas education contains posts on accountability, testing, K-12 education, postsecondary educational attainment, dropouts, bilingual education, immigration, school finance, environmental issues, Ethnic Studies at state and national levels. It also represents my digital footprint, of life and career, as a community-engaged scholar in the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin.
Sunday, May 15, 2022
Why Bill Gates Is Buying Up U.S. Farmland
This August 21, 2021 CNBC video and news story is an eye-opener. One learns that 1.86% of all the
land available in the U.S. is owned by 100 of the wealthiest people in the U.S., including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos and 98 others. You can learn about all 100 families in the 2020 edition of the Land Report.
The land consists of forests, ranches, and farmland. This happens against the backdrop of 2,000 acres of farmland that is lost to development.
Approximately 39 % of all of America's current 911 million acres of farmland is rented or leased out to farmers.
This jeopardizes the status of current farmers that can't afford to purchase land for themselves or to compete against the big growers who are always trying to buy them out.
Whether the consolidation of farmland in the hands of private, for-profit corporations is good or bad for the future, the experts aren't saying—at least not in this video. Still, it's hard to imagine a world where farmers that lease farmland truly benefit, considering that land ownership—were it attainable—is not even a viable option for them.
That said, an interesting possible opportunity over the next 25 years is that demographics point to a turning over of 50 percent of farmland! This is huge, my friends.
At a time of ecological change, upheaval and crisis, it is important for us to consider the quality of our soils, our food sources, affordable food prices, and collectively plan for the future, most especially protecting and defending the livelihoods of young farmers.
Bill Gates made headlines for becoming the largest private farmland owner in the U.S. But he’s not the only one. Some of the wealthiest landowners including Jeff Bezos, John Malone and Thomas Peterffy are buying up forests, ranches and farmlands across the United States. Why? Watch the video to find out.
Investments in farmland are growing across the country as people, including the ultra-wealthy like Bill Gates, look for new ways to grow their money.
In 2020, Gates made headlines for becoming the largest private farmland owner in the U.S. He had accumulated more than 269,000 acres of farmland across 18 states in less than a decade. His farmland grows onions, carrots and even the potatoes that are used to make McDonald’s French fries.
“It’s an asset with increasing value,” American Farmland Trust CEO John Piotti said. “It has great intrinsic value and beyond that, it is a limited resource.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 30% of all farmland is owned by landlords who don’t farm themselves. Buyers often purchase land from farmers who have owned it for decades; many of whom may be asset rich but maybe cash poor.
“The economic realities for them are typical that they’ve spent their life farming,” said Holly Rippon-Butler, land campaign director at the National Young Farmers Coalition. “Their retirement, their equity is all in the land and tied up in selling land.”
Private landowners are also making a profit by utilizing the land in numerous ways. Approximately 39% of the 911 million acres of farmland across the U.S. is rented out to farmers, and 80% of that rented farmland is owned by landlords who don’t farm themselves data from the Agriculture Department shows.
“The young farmers are just as happy to lease the land because whether you are young or old, it’s a business, right?” said Thomas Petterfy, chairman of Interactive Brokers and owner of 581,000 acres.
“You go buy a farm and you put that cash rental lease in place, you’re going to be looking at about 2.5% return on your capital,” Peoples Company President Steve Bruere said.
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