Ask any farmer and they'll tell you that it's a tough life. The small family farm has nearly been replaced by corporations and factory farms. But you know who is interested in farmland? The rich. And we mean ultra-rich. One of those land owners is Microsoft owner Bill Gates.

Yes, THAT Bill Gates. The fourth richest person on planet earth with a net worth somewhere north of $125 billion. But according to LandIncome.com, you can add another title to Gate's ledger. He is also the largest, private owner of farmland in the United States. Bill and his wife Melinda own over 280,000 acres of farmland in 19 different states, including here in Iowa. Their properties are valued at $690 million. But why is Bill Gates interested in buying up land here in Iowa?

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LandIncome.com points out that owning land is a relatively safe investment. Farmland offers low volatility. Corporations and the rich continue to invest in farmland to find ways to battle climate change and to supply products to an increasingly hungry world. New technologies will also need to be developed to make farming sustainable. Gates and others could develop those products on the land they own in the Midwest.

Some other reasons that Bill Gates is investing in farmland include seed science. Gates, who is well-known for his work involving food insecurity in developing nations, could be working on new seed technology on the land he owns in the U.S. LandIncome.com also notes that Gates and others could be doing research on the use of biofuels looking for the next gas alternative.

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Buying farmland in states like Iowa lines up with Bill and Melinda Gates and their creation of Gates Ag One. LandIncome.com reports that the non-profit will help farmers in developing countries have better access to the latest in farming technologies, and help them improve yields and fight climate change. So while Bill Gates and his Iowa farmland may seem like just a sound investment, it could actually end up benefiting farmers in Iowa and around the world.

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