John Deere tractor (Photo www.deere.com)
Hickman County, Kentucky is a rural county. Much more importantly, the county is farm country dominating the landscape. With 20 people per square mile, well below the US average of 93 per square mile, the county is sparsely populated.
In a farming world, the name John Deere means life or death. With its product line of heavy and light equipment, farmers can plow, treat and harvest vast acreages with far fewer laborers than their ancestors. Large scale tractors and combines help rule and control thousands of row crop fields. Deere's product line supplies communities with lawn mowers costing over $5,000 dollars and tractors-combines well past $250,000. Farming is a big expensive equipment heavy business.
To many living outside of farming communities, John Deere stock is a good place for future investment gains. The very rich also own John Deere.
In the past few weeks, the name of John Deere has surfaced in one of the worlds largest divorce settlements seen upon the planet. After 27 years of marriage, Bill and Melinda French Gates are ending their marriage. Reports of their dividing up assets revealed that John Deere stock is part of their portfolio.
Bill Gates transferred 2.25 million shares of John Deere stock worth about $850 million, to Melinda French Gates in their divorce settlement. Shares of the heavy farm equipment manufacturer were approximately 7% of Gates' stake.
French Gates has received nearly $4 billion worth of stock from Gates since their divorce news. In the transfer, Melinda French Gates becomes a force in rural economies and Wall Street trading in her own right.
The famous Gates will continue to cooperate through the Gates Foundation. It will be interesting to see if French Gates will have a separate impact on farming in rural America and in the developing economies that the Foundation has worked to improve.