The Van Trump Report

America’s Top Ten Largest Land Owners

The United States is an enormous country with approximately 2.43 billion acres of land. That land, of course, is a finite and precious resource that is also one of the best investments on the planet. Some Americans own a pretty sizable chunk of US land and those top private landholders are always of great interest to the agriculture community. Every year, “The Land Report 100” tallies up how many acres are held by the biggest landowners, a list that doesn’t typically change very much. However, over the last several years, a lot of land has changed hands and we’ve seen some shuffling of acreage at the top. For the fourth year in a row, the Emmerson family is America’s largest landowner in 2024 with over 2.4 million acres, followed by Ted Turner with 2 million acres. Among the top 10 landowners, 9 hold a million acres or more. Below are the top 10 US private landowners as of 2024, according to The Land Report:

10. The King Ranch Heirsown 911,215 acres in South Texas. The King Ranch was started in the mid-19th century by Richard King, a young indentured jeweler who ran away and started a steamboat company in south Texas, according to the Ranch’s website. Over the course of over 160 years, King Ranch led some of the first cattle drives, developed the Santa Gertrudis and Santa Cruz breeds of cattle, bred Quarter Horses, and produced Champion Thoroughbreds. Created in 2003 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of King Ranch, the land is now the KING RANCH INSTITUTE FOR RANCH MANAGEMENT at Texas A&M University – Kingsville focusing on educating the next generation of ranch managers.

9. Brad Kelley owns 1 million acres in Far West Texas. The Land Report notes that the sale of several ranches decreased the holdings of this longtime landowner, including the 49,723-acre San Jacinto Ranch in Presidio County and 10,000-acre Cathedral Mountain Ranch just south of Alpine. According to The Land Report, Kelley has other strategic tracts currently listed, including the 424,000- acre Brewster Ranches, a one-of-a-kind assemblage of 22 ranches located adjacent to Big Bend National Park and Black Gap Wildlife Management Area that is on the market for $230.2 million. Kelley also has an entire mountain range listed for $48.8 million: the 76,185-acre Eagle Mountain and Carrizo Mountain Ranches.

8. The Singleton Family owns 1,110,000 acres in New Mexico and California. The family descends from Henry Singleton, who co-founded the industrial conglomerate Teledyne in 1960 and began buying land in the mid-1980s. Now his heirs run the massive Singleton Ranches, headquartered in Santa Fe, one of the nation’s biggest cattle and horse-breeding operations. The Singletons also own the Peachtree Ranch and the Topo Ranch in California’s Salinas Valley and the River Island Ranch in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas.

7. The Buck Family, owns approximately 1,236,000 acres in Maine. The company traces its fortune back to Dr. Peter Buck, a nuclear physicist who co-founded Subway. After Subway, Buck purchased 925,000 acres of timberland in Maine, adding to that over the years.

6. The Irving Family owns 1,267,792 acres of land in the U.S., and even more in their native Canada. The Irving family land holdings originated with James Dergavel “J.D.” Irving, who founded a timber enterprise in Canada. Irving’s son K.C. acquired substantial landholdings in New Brunswick, Canada, as well as in neighboring Maine, where the family eventually became the Pine Tree State’s largest landowners. The Irvings operate their timberlands on 60-year rotations while harvesting less than 1.7 percent of their forested area each year.

5. The Reed Family owns 1,661,000 acres of timberland across the northwest and south. The family’s Green Diamond Resource Co. dates back to 1890. The family owns land in eight U.S. states total and prides itself on its strict forestry regulations. The Reed family was established by patriarch Mark Edward Reed, a failed logger was hired by Sol Simpson to manage the Simpson Logging Company. After Simpson died in 1906, Reed assumed control of the company.

4. Stan Kroenke owns 1,700,000 acres (up 72,500 acres), including ranch land in Nevada, Texas, and Wyoming. Kroenke, a real estate developer, is married to Walmart heiress Ann Walton. He also owns several sports teams, including the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL, Denver Nuggets of the NBA, Colorado Avalanche of the NHL. The American sports tycoon and his Walmart heiress wife purchased the United States’ largest ranch, the Waggoner Ranch in Texas on 535,000 acres, in 2016.

3. Ted Turner, founder of CNN, owns 2,000,000 acres and the largest bison herd in the world. According to The Land Report, Turner’s two dozen properties, which include 14 ranches, are equivalent in size to Yellowstone National Park. Turner is the largest private landowner in both Nebraska and  New Mexico. Mr. Turner purchased his first bison in 1976 and his first ranch (The Bar None in Montana) in 1987. The Turner bison herd, which is now the largest herd in the world, totals some 45,000 head.

2. John Maloneused his telecom fortune to acquire 2,200,000 acres of land.This billionaire businessman and philanthropist was the CEO of Tele-Communications Inc. for 24 years and is now the chairman of Liberty Media, which has ownership stakes in in Formula One, SiriusXM, and the Atlanta Braves baseball team. According to The Land Report, Malone works to maintain historical structures and traditions on his properties. Malone’s land holdings are part of his Silver Spur Ranches, a ranching and beef company which includes the Silver Spur Ranch in Encampment, Wyoming, Bell Ranch and the TO Ranch in New Mexico, Bridlewood Farm, a thoroughbred breeding, training and racing operation in Ocala, Florida; as well as ranches in Walden, Colorado, and Kiowa, Colorado.  Malone held the top spot as America’s largest landowner for 10 years, before losing the title to the Emmerson family in 2021. 

1. The Emmerson Family and their Sierra Pacific Industries owns 2,411,000 acres of timberland. Founded by Archie Aldis “Red” Emmerson and his son Curly in 1949, Sierra Pacific today is a third-generation, family-owned forest products company based in Anderson, California. The family’s holdings are focused in the Western states of California, Oregon, and Washington. SPI went public in 1969 but four years later Red and Curly bought out their partner and took it private. Over the next quarter-century, Red would acquire more than 1 million acres of California timberland, including 525,000 acres in a single $465 million transaction from the Santa Fe Southern Pacific ­Corporation in 1988. Sierra Pacific Industries today is one of the largest privately owned U.S. forest products companies. It is also among the largest U.S. lumber manufacturers and wood window producers.

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