Mormon Sect a Major Landholder in Britain

LONDON, JULY 16, 2001 ( The Mormon sect has become the biggest foreign landowner in Britain, and uses the income from its holdings of prime farmland to spread its teaching in the Third World, the Independent reported.

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The latest purchase is the 2,000-acre Stubton Estate near Grantham, Lincolnshire, which it bought last month for around $7 million.

The deal has brought the amount of agricultural land the Mormons own to 15,000 acres — which puts the sect alongside the Crown Estate and the Duchy of Lancaster as a major landholder. Estate agents estimate the sect has spent at least $42 million on prime British farmland in the past six years.

Its fast-growing agricultural investment mirrors the growth of the sect, officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although mainly based in the United States, it now has 180,000 members in Britain, based in 40 regional centers, or stakes. It first began buying land in Britain in 1995.

The Mormons say they are buying land to produce income for the sect as a long-term investment. Chris Jolliffe, general manager of the sect´s farming company, said the crops it grows, such as wheat, provide food for the Third World.

Other crops are sold, with profits funding other humanitarian projects. In the past three years, $3.5 million has been made from the farms and used to support Mormon work in Ethiopia and Kenya, the Independent said.

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