The tech billionaire has been buying up prime land at a rapid rate, but is it for the sake of the planet, or purely financial?

@harrydq and @OliviaRudgard investigate ⬇️…
"Late in life, the sultan of software, emperor of intangibles, has discovered what the British aristocracy have known for a thousand years: nothing beats land"
His reported portfolio of prime farmland amounts to 269,000 acres – 6,000 more than the farmland held by the Queen in the Crown Estate
There are romantically named holdings:

📍 Horse Heaven Hills
📍 Richland

His new acquired land is spread across 19 states, with the biggest lots in:

📍 Louisiana
📍 Arkansas
📍 Arizona
They are the fruit of a financial strategy going back a quarter of a century to the day, in 1994, when Gates decided to diversify his fortune, then concentrated in a 45% stake in Microsoft
Gates has gone from coastal techie to landed gentry.

He may not be wearing red trousers; nor is his hallway draped in wet Labradors. But in the last two decades he has gained more than 100,000 acres of land.

According to Land Report, he is the biggest squire in the US
⭐ 2017 ⭐

He splashed more than half a billion dollars on more than 100,000 acres across nine states

⭐ 2018 ⭐

A further $171m went on buying 14,500 acres in those idyllic Horse Heaven Hills, for a total of around $690m
⭐ What does he want with it all? ⭐

The obvious answer is money. Rich arable land is in growing demand as the globe’s population rises.

The value of UK farmland has historically increased at 6% per annum, according to Savills. But after the turn of the millennium it trebled
When Gates was asked a fortnight ago, in one of his periodic “Ask Me Anything” sessions on Reddit “Hey Bill! Why are you buying so much farmland?” his answer seemed refreshingly straightforward:

“My investment group chose to do this. It is not connected to climate”
Except, Gates contradicted himself in his latest book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.

“The agriculture sector is important. With more productive seeds we can avoid deforestation and help Africa deal with the climate difficulty they already face”
Gates has long had a curiosity in “synthetic” meat producers which aim to replace the carbon intensive business of rearing animals for slaughter.

From this perspective, the Gates’ Estate makes sense both as investment and personal project to save the world
He is not the first billionaire to build a rural empire.

📍 Media mogul, Ted Turner, owns 2m acres of land on which roam one of America’s last herd of buffalo

📍 Danish billionaires Anders and Anne Holch Povlsen want to rewild their own 200,000 acres of the Scottish highlands
⭐ How much land does he own? ⭐

📍 269,000 acres of land across 19 states
📍 69,071 acres in Louisiana
📍 47,927 acres in Arkansas
📍 $690m (£498m) in land holdings
Bill Gates is estimated to be worth $128.1billion. He has so far donated more than $35bn to philanthropic causes
⭐ Why is it controversial? ⭐

Academic and indigenous American @nickwestes says:

“The 'billionaire knows best' mentality detracts from the deep-seated realities of colonialism and white supremacy, and it ignores those who actually know best how to use and live with the land"

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