I won't pretend this is anything new but certainly we have seen some very interesting and, in fact, outright concerning things happening in the world of land ownership.
I first watched a video of a gentleman talking about a friend in Oklahoma who was approached by a Chinese-influenced individual to purchase his farm. I reached out to him because I want to verify every single thing I hear these days, but I got no response. I put it out of my mind until I got a call from a farmer I know in Oklahoma who was very concerned about what he saw happening around him.
I have now made several calls to folks I know and clearly something out of the ordinary is happening. Payne County, near Cushing, seems to have a high rate of land transactions lately and these are not isolated to one area but this is going on statewide. I am writing this only to share what we currently know and hoping this will spur on a better discussion and shed some light on the facts.
We already know that Chinese-sponsored individuals are buying tracts of land and paying for them with cash. Surely there is nothing fishy about that?
I have had many friends tell me that foreign residents cannot own farmland in the state of Oklahoma, so I looked up the statutes that I believe apply to what I am hearing.
Okla. Const. art. XXII ß1 to 2:
Non-U.S. citizens cannot acquire or own land; if they acquire by devise or descent, they have to dispose of it within 5 years. Corporations can't buy, acquire, deal or trade in real estate unless it is in incorporated cities and towns. The exception is to secure a loan or collect a debt, and they must divest within 7 years.
Owning, holding or taking real estate that is necessary for carrying out business for which any corporation has been lawfully formed in the state.
So what I am told is that most of these land acquisitions have occurred since Election Day 2020. I am also being told that there is always a residence on the property and Chinese individuals quickly move into the homes. Immediately after that, a grow house for medical marijuana is constructed. For the record, medical marijuana is not an 'agricultural crop' so are they taking this farm out of "farming"?
Again I would remind you that I am sharing this information with you with the clear intention of rattling the cage to see if the snake actually has teeth and will bite. Yes, please share with me facts about this issue. I really don't want the sentence to start with "I heard" because I want just actual facts.
In that regard, I have been compiling data on Bill Gates's investment of millions of dollars in farmland in 19 states. In my home state of Nebraska, he currently owns 20,000 acres. I have acquired records from county assessors offices and am trying to establish patterns and motivation. I am wide open to the idea that he has billions of dollars and is simply looking to invest in land in a very uncertain economic time. I will also share that most of what I have found regarding Gates's farmland purchases occurred in 2017.
For as long as I have been in the public eye, I have been trying to get farmers recognition when it comes to our contribution to improving life. It appears to me that folks outside of our community understand that "he who holds the gold makes the rules" and I am bringing this to your attention so we can prevent the whole gold mine from being taken over. Ironically or not, it was an Okie that made famous the saying, "Buy land; they ain't making any more of the stuff."
Boy, we could sure use a good dose of Will Rogers in this world today!
Editorís note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.LoosTales.com, or email Trent at email@example.com.