Bill Gates can’t buy land in North Dakota?

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.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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