Potatoes for McDonald's Fries Allegedly Come From Bill Gates' Farm

Bill Gates owns the most private farmland in the US, but what's he doing about environmental care?
Fabienne Lang

Earlier this year, The Land Report reported that Bill Gates is the largest private farmland owner in the U.S., owning some 242,000 acres across 18 states.

Now, a new report by NBC News said that the potatoes used for some of McDonald's fries come from his land. Brush away any images of Gates toiling away in a field of potatoes, because the billionaire isn't the one doing the farming — however fascinating a picture that may paint. 

According to NBC News' report, the majority of these McDonald's potatoes are grown in fields Gates owns in Washington state, and are big enough that they can be seen from space. 

And it's not just potatoes that Gates' farmland grows, there are also carrots, onions, soybeans, rice, and more. In Louisiana, for instance, his farmland grows soybeans, rice, corn, and cotton. In Nebraska it's soybeans, too, in Florida it's carrots, and in Washington state it's mostly potatoes — some of which are then processed for McDonald's. 

Farmland and climate change

Given Gates' focus on climate change and a sustainable future for our environment — as was demonstrated just last week when the E.U. Commission announced it was partnering with Gates to create a program to boost clean energy technologies — it's interesting to hear that he suggested he doesn't treat his farmland investments as "part of his broader plans to save the planet," reported NBC.

As per the NBC report, some farmers who own land next to Gates' property have voiced their worry that conservation and environmental care have not been more of a focus for the philanthropic billionaire's farmland. Some hoped that he might have invested in farming techniques that might have less of an impact on the habitats, but it doesn't look like this has been the case.

When answering questions on Reddit in March linked to his farmland and climate change, Gates said "My investment group chose to do this. It is not connected to climate. The agriculture sector is important. With more productive seeds we can avoid deforestation and help Africa deal with the climate difficulty they already face. It is unclear how cheap biofuels can be but if they are cheap it can solve the aviation and truck emissions."

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