Bill Gates farmland acquisitions, alt-protein comments dominate AFN’s top 20 stories in H1 2021

August 9, 2021

When it comes to billionaires in the news, it feels like the first half of 2021 was all about Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson’s race to blast themselves into space.

But back down here on Earth, in the world of food and ag, it was Bill Gates who hogged the headlines.

In January, the Microsoft mogul and his (soon to be ex) wife Melinda French Gates were revealed to be the owners of the largest private portfolio of farmland in the US, with 242,000 acres across the country.

AFN‘s coverage of that news was our second-most read article of H1 2021 – beaten only by our follow-up report detailing Gates’ own comments on why he has amassed so much farmland. He told Redditors that the farm acquisitions had nothing to do with his and his wife’s environmental work, or his myriad investments in agritech and foodtech; rather, his “investment group chose to do this [and] it is not connected to climate.”

Nevertheless, with so much ag real estate on their hands, Bill and Melinda could create the world’s leading agrifoodtech testbed – but only if they get the farming industry on side first, I argued in an opinion piece that was also among our top 20 stories of the half-year. Meanwhile, Gates’s assertion that wealthier countries should drop livestock-based protein production altogether in favor of “synthetic meat” also garnered plenty of page views from the AFN faithful.

Other popular topics in H1 2021 included the continued growth of the plant-based meat replacement industry, as well as the automation and electrification of farm machinery.

Here are the top 20 most-read stories by unique page views on AFN from H1 2021:

1. Bill Gates tells Reddit why he’s bought so much farmland

2. Bill & Melinda Gates revealed as largest private farmland owners in US

3. Beyond Meat signs global supply deals with McDonald’s, KFC & Pizza Hut

4. Vence raises $12m to enable rotational grazing with virtual electric fences

5. Cargill open-sources Splinter, its ‘blockchain-like’ supply chain software

6. Tractor retrofitter Augmenta raises $8m in Series A round led by CNH Industrial

7. AppHarvest completes SPAC merger to go public at $1bn+ valuation

8. Cargill CEO MacLennan says plant-based will ‘cannibalize’ its protein business

9. This startup says its new laser-armed weeding robot is already sold out for 2021

10. Indoor agtech: An evolving landscape of 1,300+ startups

11. Bowery bags ‘biggest-ever’ vertical farming raise with $300m Series C

12. Bill & Melinda Gates can create the world’s biggest agrifoodtech testbed – but need to win over farmers first

13. Self-driving electric tractor startup Monarch raises $20m Series A funding

14. Jai Kisan’s fintech for farmers nets $30m Series A from Mirae Asset, Syngenta

15. ‘All rich countries should move to 100% synthetic beef,’ says Bill Gates

16. Biological innovation is key to the economic & environmental sustainability of CEA

17. ReNature raises seed funding to scale regenerative agroforestry

18. Better than bees? Arugga nets $4m for its indoor pollination robots

19. Behind the greens: Why greenhouse lettuce is not competitive yet

20. FluroSat acquires Dagan, becomes Regrow in ‘resilient ag’ & carbon push

AFN was visited by 689,806 readers in H1 2021, up 24% from 462,718 in H2 2020.

The top 10 countries over the six-month period, in descending order by number of readers, were the US, India, the UK, Canada, Australia, Singapore, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and China.

It’s worth noting that China was our fastest-growing audience segment for the half-year, with new user numbers in the country up 115% on H2 2020.

AFN‘s top 10 identifiable cities by readers were, in descending order, Singapore (Singapore), New York (US), London (UK), Paris (France), Los Angeles (US), Chicago (US), Sydney (Australia), and San Francisco (US).

Thank you to all of our readers, newsletter subscribers, and network partners – wherever you are!

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