Bill Gates isn't just one of the wealthiest men in the world, the co-founder of Microsoft, and a major philanthropist – he's also the largest private owner of farmland in the United States. Gates and his wife Melinda own 242,000 acres of farmland in the U.S. The Gates' portfolio of farmland covers 18 states. Their largest holdings are 69,071 acres in Louisiana, 47,927 acres in Arkansas, and 20,588 acres in Nebraska. Gates also owns about 25,000 acres near Phoenix that are slated to be developed into a suburb with 80,000 homes, 4,000 acres for schools, stores, and offices, and 3,400 acres of open space.
It isn't too surprising that Gates is invested so heavily in farmland. Back in 2017, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $300 million to help low-income farmers in Africa and Asia adapt to climate change. In 2018, the Gates Foundation invested $40 million to help breed chickens that lay higher quality eggs and cows that produce more milk for farms in Africa and South Asia.
Stewart and Lynda Resnick aren't far behind the Gates' in terms of farmland. The co-founders of the Wonderful Company, which owns Wonderful Pistachios, POM Wonderful, and Wonderful Halos, own 190,000 acres of farmland in the U.S.
Bill and Melinda Gates may be the biggest owners of farmland in the U.S. but they are far from being the biggest landowner overall. The largest landowner in the U.S. is probably not someone you've heard of. He is a cable TV mogul who currently owns the $24 billion company, Liberty Media. John Malone has been in the cable TV industry since the early 1970s. He is also part-owner of the Atlanta Braves, Formula 1 racing, Discovery Communications, and Lionsgate/Starz. He is a billionaire and owns 2.2 million acres of land in the United States. One of Malone's first purchases was New Mexico's Bell Ranch. He bought the 290,100 acre, 453-square-mile ranch in 2010. The purchase price was not disclosed, but the property had been listed for $83 million. He went on to acquire land in Colorado, Florida, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, and Wyoming, He owns a bit over one million acres of woodlands in Maine and New Hampshire. In 2013, Malone bought the 800 acre Bridlewood Farms in Florida for $14 million. One of the horses kept there and owned by Malone, Tapwrit, won the Belmont Stakes in 2017. Malone has also bought some high profile properties in Ireland including Humewood Castle in County Wicklow. The 32,668-square-foot castle sits on 427 acres which he bought for $11 million.