The potatoes used to produce McDonald’s fries are partially sourced from farms owned by Bill Gates that are so vast they can be seen from space. But that is just one part of the land portfolio of America’s largest farmland owner.

In under a decade, Gates and his ex-wife, Melinda French Gates, have quietly acquired nearly 109,000 hectares of farmland – roughly the size of Hong Kong – across 18 states in the US, according to data gathered by trade publication The Land Report and NBC News.

The potatoes used by the fast-food giant are grown on an industrial farm spread across some 5,700 hectares in Washington state. The property, named 100 Circles Farm, was purchased by the couple for $171 million in 2018, per the reports.

More specifically, it was purchased through a host of shell companies linked to their investment group, Cascade Investments, also based in Washington.

Participating in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) in March, Gates confirmed as much when he was asked about his farmland purchases, adding that they were not related to his more publicized efforts to promote climate change awareness and sustainable agriculture.

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“My investment group chose to do this. It is not connected to climate,” he wrote in response before segueing into topics more related to the focus of the AMA – his new how-to guide on avoiding a climate disaster.

“The agriculture sector is important. With more productive seeds, we can avoid deforestation and help Africa deal with the climate difficulty they already face,” Gates continued.

“It is unclear how cheap biofuels can be, but if they are cheap it can solve the aviation and truck emissions,” he added, wrapping up the topic and choosing not to participate in the discussion of the ethics of private farm holding by non-farmers that ensued.

Other produce grown on farmland linked to the Gateses include soybeans, corn, cotton, onions, carrots and rice.

According to the NBC News report, there are locally registered firms in every state where the two own land with hidden links to Cascade in the form of shared addresses and occasionally even email addresses within the Bill and Melinda Gates Investment Group. (RT)