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- Bill Gates is best-known for cofounding Microsoft, but he’s also a major US landowner, having bought 275,000 acres of farmland.
- In his annual Reddit AMA Wednesday, Gates was asked why he has bought so much farmland.
- He said he did so to make the farms “more productive” and “create more jobs,” adding that it was his investment team that made the decision.
Bill Gates is well-known for building Microsoft, but it’s a lesser-known fact that he’s also the biggest private landowner in the US.
Gates owns roughly 275,000 acres of farmland in the US, according to the 2022 edition of the Land Report 100, a yearly survey of the biggest landowners in the country. There were 895.3 million acres of farmland in America in 2021, according to a 2022 report from the Department of Agriculture.
In his annual Reddit Ask Me Anything session on Wednesday, Gates was asked why he has made all of his farmland purchases.
“Why are you buying up so much farmland, do you think this is a problem with billionaire wealth and how much you can disproportionally acquire?” a Reddit user asked.
Gates responded: “I own less than 1/4000 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 – in fact all these decisions are made by a professional investment team.”
“In terms of the very rich I think they should pay a lot more in taxes and they should give away their wealth over time. It has been very fulfilling for me and is my full time job,” Gates continued.
This isn’t the first time Gates has called for higher taxes on the wealthy.
In a 2020 blog post, he wrote, “The rich should pay more than they currently do, and that includes Melinda and me.”
The billionaire is one of the founders of the Giving Pledge, which asks the world’s wealthiest people to give away most of their fortunes to charitable causes. He created the pledge in 2010 with his then-wife, Melinda French Gates, and his close friend and Berkshire Hathaway CEO, Warren Buffett.
Last year, Gates vowed to give away “virtually all” of his fortune to the philanthropic foundation he runs with French Gates. In the Reddit AMA, he also said he’ll sell what he owns as money goes towards the foundation. Gates, currently the sixth-richest person in the world, has a net worth of $111 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Gates has been asked about his farmland purchases before.
In his Reddit AMA last year, one user said, “What do you plan to do with all the farmland you have purchased?”
Gates responded at the time, “My investment team bought the farmland. It is less than .1% of all US farmland because the ownership is so diverse. We invest in the farms to raise productivity. Some are near cities and might end up having other uses.”