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Farmland has been an asset that has held value for thousands of years. Only recently has this investment become “trendy.” Deemed as a boring investment by many, farmland has a lot of desirable traits that make it a solid option for diversifying your portfolio.
The question becomes, who owns the most farmland in the United States of America?
The following are the top ten farmland owners in the US:
1. Bill Gates
- Bill Gates owns 242,000 acres of farmland in 18 states.
- We do not know exactly how Gates is using his farmland, whether it’s 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 sustainability of farmland.
- Gates is the 4th richest person in the world, known for his computer programming genius rather than his agricultural expertise.
- Gates kept his farmland purchases private, but it was recently revealed that he has amassed enough acreage to be the largest private farmland owner in the county.
- His largest holdings are in: Louisiana (69,100 acres), Arkansas (48,000 acres), Nebraska 20,500 acres.
- Buying farmland hasn’t been the sole 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 in South Asia.
- This foundation has also funneled money into research and development of so-called super crops that are able to flourish even during climate change.
2. Ted Turner
- Ted Turner owns Ranches with cattle in Nebraska, Kansas, Montana, South Dakota, New Mexico as well as Argentina.
- Turner, media mogul and founder of CNN, has made a mission to promote ecological sustainability.
- 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
- 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.
- Stewart Resnick was always in the right place at the right time. He launched top-selling brands such as 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 the Resnick’s so-called Wonderful Company is worth $4.2 billion. The company produces a long 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.
4. Offutt Family
- 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 on to 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
- This family primarily grows sugarcane on 152,000 farmland acres in South Florida.
- The Fanjuls launched their farming business back 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.
- 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.
- 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 also owns and runs North America’s largest biomass power plant.
6. Boswell Family
- They own 150,000 farmland acres in the Central California Valley.
- Primarily, tomatoes and cotton are grown.
- This family story begins when James Boswell II. At the young age of 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. He made bold moves 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 crop of cotton, for which they remain a key producer even now. 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 that follows the fresh farm-to-table preparation. The company grows tomatoes from seeds, grows them to maturity, harvest them and oversees processing.
7. Stan Kroenke
- He owns 124,000 acres in Montana.
- Kroenke is known as being 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.
- Kroenke also came from humble beginnings, growing up in a small town in Missouri.
8. Gaylon Lawrence JR
- This individual owns 115,000 acres across America.
- On this land, he grows everything from wheat to corn to fresh vegetables.
- Gaylon Lawrence Jr. is the CEO of The Lawrence Group, which was founded by his father. The Lawrence Group is involved with a huge list of money-makers, from commercial real estate to banking to agriculture.
- 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. They continue to buy farmland each year.
9. Simplot Family
- This group owns 82,500 farmland acres in western Idaho and eastern Washington.
- Crops: hay, wheat, corn, barley and potatoes.
- Founder Jack Simplot came from an Idaho farming family. In 1968 luck and smart thinking came together when he signed a contract with McDonald’s owner Ray Kroc to be their source for 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.
10. John Malone
- 100,000 acres in Colorado, Wyoming Maine and New Mexico.
- Malone is also a media mogul. Malone, who made his fortune as a media tycoon, sold his Tele-Communications, Inc (TCI) to AT&T for a reported $50 billion.
- 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.