Despite opposition from the state’s residents, Bill Gates has secured legal approval for the controversial purchase of thousands of acres of prime North Dakota farmland.

Here’s what Daily Mail reported:

Bill Gates has won his legal approval to buy a huge swath of North Dakota farmland worth $13.5M after an outcry from residents who say they are being exploited by the ultra-rich.

The state’s Republican Attorney General Drew Wrigley had inquired into the land sale, and on Wednesday issued a letter saying the transaction complied with an archaic anti-corporate farming law.

The Depression-era law prohibits corporations or limited liability companies from owning farmland or ranchland, but allows individual trusts to own the land if it is leased to farmers, which Gates intends to do.

According to public records cited by AgWeek, Campbell Farms, a potato farming company with its headquarters in Grafton, North Dakota, some 50 miles from the Canadian border, sold the field to the Gates-affiliated Red River Trust for $13.5 million. About 2100 acres of land were sold in the deal, the publication added.

The buyer, Red River Trust, is linked to Gates, who is the largest owner of farmland in the US with 268,984 acres of multi-use land across 19 states.

The purchase of the property in North Dakota had sparked legal issues as well as worries that landowners who are extremely wealthy do not uphold the state’s values.

Doug Goehring, the agriculture commissioner for North Dakota said that most people have had negative reactions to the purchase­– “upset” and others were “livid.”

“I’ve got a big earful on this from clear across the state, it’s not even from that neighborhood,” said Goehring.

“Those people are upset, but there are others that are just livid about this.”

The Mail added that a federal judge in 2018 ruled the law constitutional after a conservative farm group argued that it limits business options for producers and interferes with interstate commerce by barring out-of-state corporations from being involved in North Dakota’s farm industry.

The law states that If the land is required “for residential or commercial development; the siting of buildings, plants, facilities, industrial parks, or similar business or industrial purposes of the corporation or limited liability company; or for uses supportive of or ancillary to adjacent non-agricultural land for the benefit of both land parcels,” the law exempts corporations from the ownership restriction.

North Dakota Republican Governor Doug Burgum, a former Microsoft executive whose campaign received $100,000 from Microsoft co-founder Gates when Burgum first won in 2016.

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Sources: Westernjournal, Dailymail, Aw-journal

 

 

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