who are the largest farmland owners in america

Top 10 Largest Farmland Owners In The US In 2023

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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 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.

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 richest person in the world list.

Bill Gates of course amassed his fortune primarily through Microsoft. However, he is also an avid investor in a number of asset classes.  He currently owns about 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 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, famously known as the founder of CNN, is also a major farmland owner. He currently 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 truly had his hand in a number of business ventures over the years. In addition to CNN, he also found WTBS and purchased World Champion Wrestling. He even has association with the Atlanta Braves.

  • Ted Turner owns Ranches with cattle in Nebraska, Kansas, Montana, South Dakota, New Mexico as well as Argentina.
  • Turner has made a mission to promote ecological sustainability and also joined in on Warren Buffet and Bill Gates' pledge to donate the majority of their fortune to 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 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.

  • 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 got its start in 1960 when Ron Offutt and his father began growing potatoes. Today, the farm operations are led by Ron's daughter, Christi, who is the company chair. Her husband, Keith McGovern currently serves as President of the company.

Today, Ron's daughter, Christi, is 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 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

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.

  • 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 also own and run North America’s largest biomass power plant.

6. Boswell Family

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.

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

7. Stan Kroenke

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

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

  • 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.

8. Gaylon Lawrence JR

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.

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

  • Lawrence owns 115,000 acres across America.
  • On this land, he grows everything from wheat to corn to fresh vegetables.
  • 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

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.

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

10. 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 actually owns nearly 2.2 million acres of land across the US. However, of that, roughly 100,000 acres are farmland.

  • 100,000 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.

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