The office of the Attorney General of North Dakota sent a letter Tuesday asking Red River Trust, a group with ties to billionaire Bill Gates, to prove the company’s use of the land does not violate the state’s Corporate Farming Laws.
The trust had acquired six parcels of land in Pembina County.
“I’ve gotten a big earful on this from clear across the state, it’s not even from that neighborhood,” Agricultural Commissioner Doug Goehring, according to Valley News Live. “Those people are upset, but there are others that are just livid about this.”
The letter stipulated that under North Dakota law, there are “certain limitations on the ability of trusts to own farmland or ranchland.”
“The Corporate or Limited Liability Company Farming Law has certain exceptions, such as permitting registered family farms or allowing the use of the land for business purposes,” the letter continued.
According to the letter, corporations that are in violations of this law will have a year to divest themselves of the land and are subject to a civil fine of $100,000.
“Our office needs to confirm how your company uses this land and whether this use meets any of the statutory exceptions, such as business purpose exceptions, such as the business purpose exception, so that we may close this case and file it in our inactive files,” the letter continued.
As of January 2021, Bill Gates is the largest owner of farmland in the U.S., owning 242,000 acres across 18 states, according to the Daily Mail.