The 2013 Land Report 100, the latest annual survey and ranking of the largest private landowners in the U.S., was released this week. Published by The Land Report and presented by Fay Ranches, it lists the top 100 landowners in the U.S.
The report claims that the country’s top 100 landowners cumulatively increased their private holdings by 700,000 acres in 2012, to a total of 33 million acres, or nearly 2% of the U.S. land mass. The biggest acquisition by a single landowner in the list was that of entrepreneur Stan Kroenke, who purchased the Broken O Ranch in Montana, which added another 125,000 acres to his holdings.
The two largest landowners, John Malone (Liberty Media chairman) and buffalo baron Ted Turner, both own over 2 million acres. The remaining top 10 consists of primarily families associated with the lumber business. The two historical cattle operations in the top 10 were the King Ranch heirs and the Singleton family. The spots from 10-20 in the rankings were dominated by historical ranch holdings, and individuals who amassed their fortunes in the energy business. To make the top 100 list, you simply had to own 100,000 acres or more. See the complete list.
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I’ve always enjoyed reading the stories behind these landowners, as it’s mainly a story about American capitalism. However, others view the list it as prime evidence of a society that is becoming more feudal in nature.
While the top 100 landowners might control 2% of the U.S. land mass, their individual holdings pale in comparison to the largest landowner of them all by far – the U.S. government. If you added in the government’s holdings, it would jump that 2% figure up considerably.
Land may always be a good investment, but there’s something extra special about owning the dirt you stand on and from which you derive your living. I don’t know a farmer or rancher who doesn’t dream about owning more ground. Maybe that’s because it’s so finite, and so liberating.
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