who are the largest farmland owners in america

Top 10 Largest Farmland Owners In The US In 2023

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  • Farmland is a solid investment option that offers steady returns and a hedge against inflation while diversifying your portfolio.
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  • Bill Gates is currently the US's most significant private farmland owner, with 242,000 acres of farmland in 18 states. His foundation promotes advanced eco-friendly farming and the sustainability of farmland.
  • Ted Turner owns 17 ranches with cattle in several US states and Argentina, totaling more than 45,000 bison. He has made a mission to promote ecological sustainability and supports many environmental projects battling climate change.
  • The Resnick family owns 192,000 farmland acres in California and Texas, primarily growing mandarins and other citrus fruit, pistachios, almonds, and pomegranates, with their Wonderful Company worth $4.2 billion.

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Tony Robbins famously stated that the most successful people leave clues. In other words, individuals can mimic the actions of the ultra-wealthy to build a wealth of their own. And for the ultra-wealthy, farmland is no secret.

In this article, we review the largest farmland owners in the US.

Top Farmland Owners In The US

Farmland OwnersTotal Acres
1. Bill Gates242,000
2. Ted Turner+200,000
3. Stewart & Lynda Resnick192,000
4. Offutt Family190,000
5. The Fanjul Family152,000
6. Boswell Family150,000
7. Stan Kroenke124,000
8. Gaylon Lawrence JR115,000
9. John Malone100,000
10. Simplot Family82,500

1. Bill Gates

Here's a familiar name: Bill Gates. According to Forbes, and at the writing of this post, Gates is currently number 6 on the list of wealthiest people in the world.

Bill Gates, of course, amassed his fortune primarily through Microsoft. However, he is also an avid investor in several asset classes.  In addition, he currently owns about 242,000 acres of farmland in 18 states.

  • We do not know precisely how Gates uses his farmland for actively growing crops or whether any of the land is being set aside for conservation. However, one of his foundations promotes advanced eco-friendly farming and the sustainability of farmland.
  • Gates kept his farmland purchases private, but it was recently revealed that he had amassed enough acreage to be the largest private farmland owner in the county.
  • His most significant holdings are in: Louisiana (69,100 acres), Arkansas (48,000 acres), Nebraska 20,500 acres.
  • Buying farmland hasn’t been the only way Gates has supported agriculture. In 2010, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation allocated $306 million in grants to aid high-yield, sustainable farming for farmers with smaller lots in the Sahara Desert in Africa and South Asia.
  • This foundation has also funneled money into researching and developing so-called super crops that can flourish even during climate change.

2. Ted Turner

Ted Turner, famously known as the founder of CNN, is also a significant farmland owner. He owns 17 ranches – 14 in the western U.S. and three in Argentina. While farmland makes up a large chunk of his net worth, he has had his hand in several business ventures. In addition to CNN, he found WTBS and purchased World Champion Wrestling. He even has an association with the Atlanta Braves.

  • Ted Turner owns Ranches with cattle in Nebraska, Kansas, Montana, South Dakota, New Mexico, and Argentina.
  • Turner has made a mission to promote ecological sustainability and joined in on Warren Buffet and Bill Gates' pledge to donate most of their fortune to the charity upon passing.
  • His ranches include more than 45,000 bison.
  • In addition, Turner Ranches promote and support many forward-thinking environmental projects battling climate change.
  • These include timber management to protect forest land, water conservation from natural resources, and replanting many native plant species on land destroyed by development.

3. Stewart & Lynda Resnick

Stewart Resnick was always in the right place at the right time. He launched top-selling brands like Teleflora flower delivery services and The Franklin Mint Company.

In the mid-1970s, Stewart took a chance and followed a hunch to buy 2,500 acres of oranges and lemons in California that had gone bankrupt and were being sold quickly and cheaply. After that, he found other land in fast-sell situations with owners eager to sell at rock-bottom prices.

Fast forward to today, when Resnick’s so-called Wonderful Company is worth $4.2 billion. The company produces a list of high-quality, healthy products such as Wonderful Halos Mandarins, Wonderful Pistachios, Wonderful Almonds, Fiji water, and POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice on their acreage.

  • This couple owns an astounding 192,000 farmland acres in California and Texas.
  • Primarily, on this farmland, they grow mandarins and other citrus fruit, pistachios, almonds, and pomegranates

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4. Offutt Family

The Offutt family farm started in 1960 when Ron Offutt and his father began growing potatoes. Today, the farm operations are led by Ron's daughter, Christi, the company chair. Her husband, Keith McGovern, currently serves as President of the company.

Today, Ron's daughter, Christi, is the company Chair, and Ron is Chairman Emeritus, while his son-in-law, Keith McGovern, serves as President of the company.

  • This family owns 190,000 farmland acres in Fargo, North Dakota.
  • Primarily, they grow potatoes.
  • Always on the lookout for sustaining the environment, the family works with research teams at North Dakota and Minnesota’s leading colleges to plan, build and develop earth-friendly crops that hold onto their high quality.
  • The Offutts also own RDO Equipment, which sells and services agriculture, construction, environmental, positioning, surveying, and irrigation equipment from well-known manufacturers such as John Deere.

5. The Fanjul Family

The Fanjuls launched their farming business in the mid-1800s and produced sugarcane for over a century in their homeland of Cuba. But history interrupted their thriving business when the Cuban Revolution occurred, leaving Fidel Castro in charge. During this time, the Fanjul family lost all their land and savings. So they left Cuba and relocated to South Florida, where Alfonso and Pepe Fanjul worked hard to start a new company producing sugarcane and other row crops. This company was called Florida Crystals Corp. and is located in Florida’s Everglade Agricultural land.

  • This family primarily grows sugarcane on 152,000 farmland acres in South Florida.
  • Today’s harvests yield Florida Crystals 5.9 million tons of sugarcane on 152,000 acres, used to make 676,000 tons of raw sugar and 30 million gallons of blackstrap molasses.
  • The family has sugar and rice mills and a sugar refinery. However, they own and run North America’s largest biomass power plant.

6. Boswell Family

This family story begins when James Boswell II. At 29, Boswell’s uncle passed away and left 50,000 acres in the San Joaquin Valley to James.

For the next 50 years, Boswell dominated land in California’s Central Valley, tripling his family’s holdings. Then, he boldly moved to bring much-needed water to the dry land by building dams and diverting rivers to irrigate agriculture. This allowed the farm to grow an enormous cotton crop, for which they remained a key producer. The Pima cotton is used by high-end apparel companies such as Land’s End for super soft clothing.

Along the way, Boswell established the J.G. Boswell Tomato Company, which follows fresh farm-to-table preparation. The company grows tomatoes from seeds to maturity, harvests them, and oversees processing.

  • They own 150,000 farmland acres in the Central California Valley.
  • Primarily, tomatoes and cotton are grown.

7. Stan Kroenke

Stan Kroenke is an American billionaire nicknamed Silent Stan for his desire to stay out of the spotlight. He amassed his fortune primarily from his real estate empire. He also owns Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, a holding company for several sports teams, including the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Rams.

In 1974, he married Anne Walton, the daughter of Bud Walton – Co-founder of Walmart.

  • He owns 124,000 acres in Montana.
  • Kroenke is a real estate mogul who owns more than a million acres of land across the US, including a Montana ranch spanning 124,000 acres. Kroenke is also the owner of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment.
  • He came from humble beginnings. His first job was cleaning up at Mora Lumber Co, which belonged to his father.

8. Gaylon Lawrence JR

Gaylon Lawrence Jr. is the CEO of The Lawrence Group, which his father founded. The Lawrence Group is involved with a massive list of money-makers, from commercial real estate to banking to agriculture.

Gaylon Lawrence, who passed away in 2012, created a massive holding on farmland throughout his life. His 30,000 acres of citrus farms made him one of Florida's top fruit producers. But, like many in this list, his fortune was not only amassed from farmland. He also owned Airconditioning Distributors, one of the largest privately owned heating, cooling, and ventilation distributors. After passing, his son Gaylon Lawrence Jr. took over operations.

Lawrence's land is primarily found in Illinois, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Missouri.

  • Lawrence owns 115,000 acres across America.
  • He grows everything from wheat to corn to fresh vegetables on this land.
  • The Lawrence Group’s agriculture department includes 15,000 acres, from California to Florida, and a variety of other locations, particularly in the southern Delta, where crops flourish. In addition, they continue to buy farmland each year.

9. John Malone

Like others in this list, John Malone did not necessarily earn his fortune from farmland. Instead, he was CEO of Tele-Communication Inc, TCI, which was sold to AT&T for $50 billion.

John Malone owns nearly 2.2 million acres of land across the US. However, of that, roughly 100,000 acres are farmland. He also holds multiple international real estate holdings, like the Humewood Castle in Ireland.

  • One hundred thousand acres in Colorado, Wyoming, Maine, and New Mexico.
  • John Malone owns the Silver Spur Ranches, a cattle and beef company that includes the Silver Spur Ranch in Wyoming, Bell Ranch and the TO Ranch in New Mexico, and two other ranches in Walden and Kiowa, Colorado.

10. Simplot Family

Founder Jack Simplot came from an Idaho farming family. In 1968 luck and intelligent thinking came together when he signed a contract with McDonald’s owner Ray Kroc to be their source of frozen French fries.

Before the ink was barely dry on the contract, the family farm’s output exploded as it became the #1 supplier of one of America’s go-to snacks.

After passing away in 2008, Jack Simplot’s family now manages a $2.5 billion agricultural company that dominates the farming world. Along with farming, the family owns ranching and cattle production, food processing, phosphate mining, fertilizer manufacturing, and other staples.

  • This group owns 82,500 farmland acres in western Idaho and eastern Washington.
  • Crops: hay, wheat, corn, barley, and potatoes.

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