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An entity with ties to billionaire Invoice Gates purchased 2,100 acres of potato farmland in northern North Dakota — prompting the state’s prime prosecutor to intervene after complaints from native residents.
Public information cited by AgWeek present that the Gates-linked Purple River Belief purchased the farmland from the house owners of Campbell Farms, a potato farming group that’s headquartered in Grafton, North Dakota, which is about 50 miles from the Canadian border.
North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring told KFYR that public response to the acquisition has been largely adverse.
“I’ve gotten a giant earful on this from clear throughout the state, it’s not even from that neighborhood,” mentioned Goehring.
“These persons are upset, however there are others which might be simply furious about this.”
Gates, the billionaire tech mogul and philanthropist whose internet price was pegged by Bloomberg at $113 billion, has quietly amassed practically 270,000 acres of farmland throughout the nation, according to the Associated Press.
The Microsoft co-founder is taken into account the most important non-public proprietor of farmland within the nation with some 269,000 acres throughout dozens of states, in accordance with final 12 months’s version of the Land Report 100, an annual survey of the nation’s largest landowners.
The trustee of Purple River Belief is Peter Headley, who identifies himself on his LinkedIn web page as head of agriculture funding administration at Funding Administration Co. A 2020 article by NFU Mutual Charitable Trust claimed that Headley as soon as headed an entity known as “Cottonwood,” which was described as an “ag-investment platform” for Invoice and Melinda Gates.
Earlier this week, North Dakota State Lawyer Common Drew Wrigley wrote a letter to Purple River Belief, care of Headley, notifying it that firms and restricted legal responsibility firms had been “prohibited from proudly owning or leasing farmland or ranchland within the state of North Dakota.”
Wrigley wrote that these entities had been additionally barred from “participating in farming or ranching.”
“As well as, the legislation locations sure limitations on the power of trusts to personal farmland or ranchland,” the letter mentioned.
The land, most of which is non-irrigated, was transferred to Purple River Belief on Nov. 2 and Nov. 3 of final 12 months. Purple River Belief filed paperwork with the workplace of the secretary of state of North Dakota on Feb. 15 of this 12 months. The entity shares the identical tackle as Campbell Farms.
The belief and Headley got 30 days to reply to the letter.
“Our workplace wants to verify how your organization makes use of this land and whether or not this use meets any of the statutory exceptions, such because the enterprise objective exception, in order that we could shut this case and file it in our inactive recordsdata,” the letter says.
Gates, in an Ask Me Something session on Reddit final 12 months, mentioned his “funding group” was behind the purchases, and urged it was linked to seed and biofuel growth.
“The agriculture sector is vital,” he wrote. “With extra productive seeds we are able to keep away from deforestation and assist Africa cope with the local weather issue they already face. It’s unclear how low-cost biofuels may be but when they’re low-cost it will probably resolve the aviation and truck emissions.”
In keeping with the North Dakota Company or Restricted Legal responsibility Firm Farming Legislation, there are “sure exceptions, resembling allowing registered household farms or permitting the usage of the land for enterprise functions.”
Wrigley’s workplace mentioned it had “come to our consideration” that Purple River Belief “could have acquired land for farming or ranching in Pembina County on Nov. 4, 2021.”
A company or LLC “present in violation” of the legislation has as much as a 12 months to divest itself fromt he land or face a penalty “as much as $100,000,” in accordance with the letter.