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North Dakota AG asks trust ‘linked to Bill Gates’ to justify farmland purchase near Canadian border

A trust allegedly linked to Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates has been asked to justify a recent purchase of farmland in North Dakota that has left residents “infuriated.”

Red River Trust reportedly acquired six lots near the Minnesota-Canada border in November, which officials say violated the state’s agricultural laws.

North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley sent a letter to the trust Tuesday asking officials to confirm its plans to use the land and whether the company complies with any of the state law exceptions. .

If the Red River Trust violates state law, the company will be forced to divest itself of the land and could face a fine of up to $100,000.

Gates is considered the largest private owner of farmland in America after quietly amassed about 270,000 acres of land in dozens of states, The Associated Press reported last year.

However, the billionaire’s properties make up only a small fraction of the nearly 900 million total U.S. agricultural land

A trust reportedly linked to Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates (pictured June 7) has been asked to justify a recent purchase of farmland in North Dakota that has

A trust reportedly linked to Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates (pictured June 7) has been asked to justify a recent purchase of farmland in North Dakota that has “fooled” residents

Red River Trust reportedly acquired six plots of land in Grafton, ND, near the Minnesota-Canada border last November.  The land is apparently part of Campbell Farms (above)

Red River Trust reportedly acquired six plots of land in Grafton, ND, near the Minnesota-Canada border last November. The land is apparently part of Campbell Farms (above)

Corporations and limited liability companies are prohibited from owning or leasing farms or ranchland in North Dakota, Wrigley said, citing the state code.

State law also prohibits these entities from engaging in farming or ranching.

“In addition, the law imposes certain restrictions on the ability of trusts to own farmland or ranch land,” the attorney general wrote.

He has asked Red River Trust, which has purchased a Grafton property ostensibly known as Campbell Farms, to provide his office with a copy of the land title and disclose his intentions with the property.

“Our office must confirm how your company is using this land and whether the use meets any of the legal exceptions, such as the business exception,” Wrigley wrote.

Red River Trust has 30 days to provide the state with the requested documentation.

North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley sent a letter to the trust on Tuesday asking officials to confirm plans to use the land and whether the company complies with any of the exceptions to the laws. of the state

North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley sent a letter to the trust on Tuesday asking officials to confirm plans to use the land and whether the company complies with any of the exceptions to the laws. of the state

The potato farmer group Campbell has the about 2,100 acres of land, worth more than $13.5 million, to Red River Trust in a “silent transaction” in November 2021.

Public documents obtained by AG week revealed that the trust spent about $6,600 an acre on the portion of the land in Pembina County.

The sale price for the land in Walsh County, which analysts say is hampered by river boundaries, was about $6,000 an acre.

North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring told: KFYR his office has received negative reactions to the land purchase.

“I’ve heard a lot about this from all over the state, it’s not even from that area,” Goehring said. “Those people are angry, but there are others who are furious about this.”

While noting that there is nothing illegal or illegal about selling land to a billionaire, the commissioner said the people of North Dakota feel they are being exploited by the “ultra-rich who buy land in North Dakota, but not necessarily the share state rights. values.’

AG Drew Wrigley (pictured in May) asked Red River Trust to provide his office with a copy of the land title and state his intentions with the property.  The trust has 30 days to provide the state with the requested documentation

AG Drew Wrigley (pictured in May) asked Red River Trust to provide his office with a copy of the land title and state his intentions with the property. The trust has 30 days to provide the state with the requested documentation

The Campbell potato growing group transferred the approximately 2,100 acres of land, worth more than $13.5 million, to Red River Trust in a 'silent transaction' made in November 2021.

The Campbell potato growing group transferred the approximately 2,100 acres of land, worth more than $13.5 million, to Red River Trust in a ‘silent transaction’ made in November 2021.

Public records showed that the trust spent about $6,600 an acre on the portion of land in Pembina County.  The sale price for the land in Walsh County, which analysts say is hampered by river boundaries, costs about $6,000 an acre

Public records showed that the trust spent about $6,600 an acre on the portion of land in Pembina County. The sale price for the land in Walsh County, which analysts say is hampered by river boundaries, costs about $6,000 an acre

Gates is not mentioned in Wrigley’s letter, which is addressed to trustee Peter Headley.

The trust is located in Lenexa, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City, at an address shared with: Cottonwood Ag, or Cottonwood Farms, and Oak River Farms/Midwest.

Cottonwood Ag Management is reportedly an agricultural asset management team for Cascade Investment, LLC and Bill and Melinda Gates Investments, AG Week reported.

Additionally, in 2020, analysts revealed that Headley headed Cottonwood, which has been described as an “ag investment platform” for Gates and his former wife, Melinda French Gates.

Regardless of Gates’ alleged ownership of the farm in North Dakota, Campbell Farms appears to be keeping pace with its potato crops, including on the land involved in the deal.

According to their website, the Campbells acquired the farm in 1978 with a $9,000 loan. The farm has locations in Big Lake, Minnesota; Grafton, North Dakota and Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Gates already has an impressive land portfolio totaling over 268,984 acres.  The image above does not reflect the recent purchase in North Dakota

Gates already has an impressive land portfolio totaling over 268,984 acres. The image above does not reflect the recent purchase in North Dakota

Gates already has an impressive land portfolio. As of 2021, his largest holdings in the US were 69,071 acres in Louisiana, 47,927 acres in Arkansas, 25,750 acres in Arizona, 20,588 acres in Nebraska, and 16,097 acres in Washington state.

But even then, Gates wasn’t in the top 100 private landowners in the US — if we look at owners of all types of land, not just farmland.

The title for largest landholding goes to American businessman John Malone, chairman of Liberty Media, which owns 2.2 million acres.

Gates also reportedly bought “hundreds of hectares of farmland” in Turkey last November while vacationing aboard a superyacht.

He reportedly wants to create a large sustainable farm in the countryside. It is not clear whether he eventually bought the land.

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