Between Church and Gates

Jul 2, 2021

Goin’ once, goin’ twice. Sold to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This week, Farmland Reserve, a company with ties to the Mormon Church, was the highest bidder for 33,000 acres of land in Benton County, Washington. The Mormon group’s $209 million bid beat out the second-highest bid, which came from a group linked to Bill Gates.

Sidebar: If you didn’t already know, Bill Gates is the top farmland owner in the U.S.

Back to the program: This land is the center of a fraud scandal involving rancher Cody Easterday. You may remember back in April when the rancher pled guilty to charges placed against him by Tyson Foods.

Easterday allegedly defrauded the company of $244 million in costs for buying and feeding ghost cattle. Ghost cattle = cattle that don’t exist. In addition to losing his farm and ranch, he also faces up to 20 years in prison.

The land sale isn’t finalized until a judge hits the gavel, expected to happen in August.