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Bill Gates Shuts Down Conspiracy Theory About Owning Farmland. No 'Grand Scheme Involved.' The billionaire has purchased 270,00 acres and many want to know why.

By Jonathan Small

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

During his 11th appearance on Reddit's Ask Me Anything this week, Bill Gates tried to set the record straight about purchasing American farmland.

The tech billionaire was asked by Reddit user bortodeeto, "Why are you buying up so much farmland, do you think this is a problem with billionaire wealth and how much you can disproportionally acquire?"

In recent years, Gates has bought nearly 270,000 acres of farmland across the country, leading many to question his motives. Some conspiracy theorists even claim he is buying "the majority" of American farmland as part of a sinister plot to cause widespread food shortages.

But Gates responded to the question on Reddit by trying to put his recent land grabs in perspective, "I own less than 1/4000 of the farmland in the US," he wrote.

Indeed, if Gates wants to buy up all of the American farmland, he's got a long way to go. According to a 2021 USDA survey, there are 895,300,000 acres of farmland in the U.S. Reuters calculated Gates' holdings were a mere 0.027% of that.

Gates went on to explain why he'd taken such an interest in agriculture.

"I have invested in these farms to make them more productive and create more jobs. There isn't some grand scheme involved - in fact all these decisions are made by a professional investment team."

This is not the first time (and certainly won't be the last) Gates has responded to concerns about his farmland purchases on Reddit. So-called "FarmGates" was also the topic at a 2021 Reddit Q&A, when a Reddit user asked him, "Hey Bill! Why are you buying so much farmland?"

"My investment group chose to do this. It is not connected to climate," Gates wrote. "The agriculture sector is important. With more productive seeds we can avoid deforestation and help Africa deal with the climate difficulty they already face. It is unclear how cheap biofuels can be but if they are cheap it can solve the aviation and truck emissions."

Related: 8 Takeaways From Bill Gates' AMA: Banning Billionaires, His Friendship With Warren Buffett, and Why He Is Buying So Much Farmland

A mixed response

Despite Gates's insistence that there's nothing to see here, some Reddit users still expressed concern at just how much land Gates has acquired.

"I did the math out of him owning 1/5000 and it comes to 180,000 acres or 281 sq miles. That's the size of 4.6 Washington DC's for perspective," one wrote.

"Bigger than the total area of Singapore or Bahrain," commented another.

But some Redditors came to Gates's defense, like WaywardTraveller, who wrote:

"Most farmland today is under corporate ownership, with the entire intent being to extract as much profit as possible. What Bill is doing here is different. I know it seems like a lot, and in reality it is. But given what's happening to the vast majority of farmland in the US, I'm leaning towards this being a Good Thing."

Jonathan Small

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Founder, Write About Now Media

Jonathan Small is an award-winning author, journalist, producer, and podcast host. For 25 years, he has worked as a sought-after storyteller for top media companies such as The New York Times, Hearst, Entrepreneur, and Condé Nast. He has held executive roles at Glamour, Fitness, and Entrepreneur and regularly contributes to The New York Times, TV Guide, Cosmo, Details, Maxim, and Good Housekeeping. He is the former “Jake” advice columnist for Glamour magazine and the “Guy Guru” at Cosmo.

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