Bill Gates Harvests $113 Million In Nebraska Farmland, Takes Out $700 Million In Loans

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Over the past six years, billionaire Bill Gates has spent more than $113 million purchasing Nebraska farmland and has taken out two loans totaling $700 million against it.

Gates owns about 20,000 acres of farmland in Nebraska, where longtime friend and fellow billionaire Warren Buffett resides. The farmland is held by more than 20 shell companies.

Why would one of the world's richest people need to take out a loan? Many high-net-worth individuals borrow against their assets if they need money they can spend. If Gates sold the assets, he would generate taxable income, according to University of Nebraska College of Law professor Adam Thimmesch.

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"If you can hold those assets until you die, all of that taxable gain goes away, so the ideal tax planning technique, if you're wealthy enough to be able to do it, is to invest in those appreciating assets," Thimmesch told the Flatwater Free Press.

Gates's farmland acquisitions are raising concern in Nebraska because of his involvement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which includes programs addressing sustainability and climate change. If he donates the land to a nonprofit, it could become tax-exempt, which would "decimate" the counties where it's located, according to an email from state Sen. Tom Brewer, a Republican whose district covers 11 rural counties.

"It would force action from the Legislature to protect the counties," Brewer wrote in an email to the Flatwater Free Press.

But Cascade Asset Management, the company that manages Gates's farmland investments, said they are not connected to the foundation.

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"The investments that Cascade makes in Nebraska farmland are not connected with the agricultural or climate initiatives of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation," a Cascade spokesperson said in an email to the Flatwater Free Press.

In a November episode of Trevor Noah's podcast, Gates said Cascade purchased the land on his behalf because it was a good investment.

"The decision to buy this land was made by people who help manage my money so that we get a good return so that the foundation can buy more vaccines," he said. "And they saw that if we could invest in land and (improve) the productivity of that land, that it would have a good return."

While some news outlets have reported that Gates owns the majority of U.S. farmland, an Associated Press investigation found that is not the case. Gates has acquired nearly 270,000 acres across the country but it's just a fraction of the nearly 900 million total farm acres in America.

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