MINIOT, N.D. — North Dakotans like to pride themselves on being pro-property rights.
Except, it seems, when it comes to a private individual selling some land to iconic billionaire Bill Gates.
At issue is 2,100 acres of farmland in Pembina and Walsh Counties that was sold to the Red River Trust , an entity associated with Gates, for $13.5 million. The seller is Campbell Farms, the family business of former Republican state Sen. Tom Campbell, who last made statewide headlines when he was running for a seat in Congress in 2016.
Attorney General Drew Wrigley’s office is now investigating the transaction for a possible violation of North Dakota’s ban on corporate farming.
A business incorporated in North Dakota to farm or ranch must consist of no more than 15 shareholders all of whom must be related only in the following ways: parent, son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, grandparent, grandson, granddaughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, great-grandparent, great-grandchild, first cousin, or the spouse of a person so related.
Second cousins were added to this list thanks to a bill passed in the 2019 session of the state Legislature , though it was over the objections of the North Dakota Farmer’s Union.