LDS Inc. owns .7% of Florida

My brother-in-law came to visit last weekend. As science geeks, we tried to see a shuttle launch while he was here (the launch was canceled 11 minutes before liftoff because of weather – ugh!). On the way to watch the launch we stopped by Deseret Citrus and Cattle Ranch to see the Mormon Church’s ranching operations:

sign by main entrance
sign by main entrance

Alas, as former Mormons, we failed to consider that they wouldn’t offer tours on Sunday. But we stopped by the Visitor’s Center anyway and drove around a bit. Here’s the Visitor’s Center:

the Visitor's Center
the Visitor's Center

I knew from the Deseret Ranches’ website and this wikipedia page that the ranch was big, but actually driving around the ranch made me wonder just how big it is. So, I spent a good 10 hours or so trying to see if I could map out just how big the ranch is. After all that time, I realized it was simply too big for me to easily map out by myself. But, the research I did do provided me with some fascinating information.

First off, thanks to a corporation registration website in Florida, I was able to track the name changes of the holding companies for the ranch over the years, eventually finding the current name. It used to be Deseret Properties of Florida, Inc., Deseret Farms, Inc., Deseret Farms Inc., Deseret Ranches of Florida, Inc., Deseret Livestock Company, Deseret Properties of Florida, Inc., Deseret Ranches of Florida, Inc. (1), Deseret Ranches of Florida, Inc. (2), but it is now called Farmland Reserve, Inc.. Once I finally found the current holding company, I was able to visit the property tax appraisers’ websites for the three main counties where the ranch is located: Osceola, Orange, and Brevard. On those sites I found all the property listings of Farmland Reserve, Inc. Here’s a summary of what I found after I added them all up:

County Acres Value
Osceola 182,685.50 $763,252,812.00
Orange 64,843.57 $208,286,252.00
Brevard 41,559.66 $12,552,680.00
Hillsborough-FRI 3,952.94 $30,145,012.00
Total 293,041.67 $1,014,236,756.00

Yep, you’re eyes do not deceive you – LDS, Inc. has more than $1 billion in for-profit property in Florida. The acres convert to 457 square miles, or .7% of the State of Florida. I can’t say for certain, but my guess is that LDS, Inc. is the largest landholder in the state behind the government. For comparative purposes, Disney owns 25,000 acres (that’s all of their properties, not just Disney World), or about 1/12th of the land owned by the LDS, Inc. holding company.

To tally all of this information, I actually built a spreadsheet that you’re welcome to download and peruse. I also started drawing the land parcels in Google Earth, but once I realized just how many there were, I decided I just didn’t have the time. I did complete all the land in Orange County and started on the land in Osceola County. If you want to see the maps or, better yet, if you’d like to improve/complete the maps, you can download them here: Orange County, Osceola County. If you do download them and improve them, please send me a copy of the updated versions as I’d like to have them.

As I was searching through these listings, on a whim I decided to see if Farmland Reserve, Inc. owned any property in my county, Hillsborough, FL, which is all the way across the state from Osceola and Brevard Counties. Turns out they do (see above table). That’s in addition to the $12 million owned by “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Corporation”, which is the company that holds the churches. This makes me wonder just how much property Farmland Reserve Inc. owns. I checked a couple additional counties in Florida but didn’t find any more property.

One of the reasons I wanted to visit the ranch is because my aunt and uncle recently completed a mission there (I should have gone while they were there, but never made it). The amazing thing about the fact that they served a mission there is that they did zero proselytizing and they paid to serve their mission. So, what did they do? My uncle was a high school shop teacher. He knows how to build and repair homes. So, they put him to work building homes on the ranch. He’s round 70 years old and was working 12 hour days 6 days a week for 18 months. His wife ran some of the tours and did other odd jobs around the ranch. When I found out that my aunt and uncle were paying for the opportunity to work for Farmland Reserve, Inc., a billion dollar for profit company, I was not very happy. Not only did the LDS Church use tithing money to buy the ranch (I’m assuming, maybe it was profit from some other business venture), but now it makes people pay for the opportunity to make one of their subsidiaries money. How is that at all ethical?

To wit, the obvious question is: How does the billion dollar ranching operation of the LDS Church further its religious aims? Why does a religion need a billion dollar ranch? Anyone?

Finally, all this searching around for property owned by LDS, Inc. led me to realize that we, the MSP community, could probably put together a pretty good estimate of the property holdings of LDS, Inc. (in the US at least) fairly easily if we distributed the work among us. If each person looked up the holdings of LDS, Inc. in their county and put them in a spreadsheet, we could aggregate them and keep a running total of known property value of the LDS religion. It would make a cool little widget for MSP to display. Thoughts?

Published by

profxm

I'm a college professor and, well, a professional X-Mormon. Thus, ProfXM. I love my Mormon family, but have issues with LDS Inc. And I'm not afraid to tell LDS Inc. what I really think... anonymously, of course!

258 thoughts on “LDS Inc. owns .7% of Florida

  1. So what?? Maybe one reason the church has so much money is because none of their clergy is paid?? And what does it matter to you, what the church, or their members do with their money?? You are simply arguing that because the church has something to show for itself, it must be bad? All your arguments are based on estimates and assertions that dont add up to squat. Its all rather sad really.

  2. Whats worse is that you are obviously copy and pasting everything from somewhere else, meaning none of these thoughts are original to you.

  3. The church also doesn’t pay taxes on donated funds and holdings. Mitt Romney and others at Bain Capital, the private equity firm he co-founded in 1984, gave the Mormon Church millions’ worth of stock holdings obtained through Bain deals, according to Reuters. Between 1997 and 2009, these included $2 million in Burger King (BKW) and $1 million in Domino’s Pizza (DPZ) shares. Under U.S. law, churches can legally turn around and sell donated stock without paying capital-gains taxes, a clear advantage for both donor and receiver. The church also makes money through various investment vehicles, including a trust company and an investment fund called Ensign Peak Advisors, which employs managers who specialize in international equities, cash management, fixed income, quantitative investment, and emerging markets, according to profiles on LinkedIn (LNKD). Public information on Ensign Peak is sparse. In 2006 one of the fund’s vice presidents, Laurence R. Stay, told the Mormon-run Deseret News, “As we trade securities, all of the trading happens essentially with a handshake. … There’s lots of protections around it, but billions of dollars change hands every day just based on the ethics of the group—that people know that they can trust each other.”

  4. meaning i am using facts and researched articles … you know ..facts
    The Mormon Church is owned and run by what is called the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This entity is a “corporation sole,” which is an obscure legal body owned entirely by one person. In the case of the Mormon Church, that person is Monson, the prophet.

    The Mormon presidency is not an elected position, and while the president is considered a prophet, it’s also not considered a direct appointment from God. When one president resigns or dies, he is replaced by the longest-serving member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, an ecclesiastic group commonly referred to as the Apostles. Each new president handpicks two counselors to help him lead. The three-man team is called the First Presidency.

    The church’s “General Authorities”—of which there are more than 100—consist of the First Presidency, the Presiding Bishopric, the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, and two other groups, the so-called Quorums of the Seventy. Although the LDS Church is largely run by a lay clergy, most General Authorities work full-time and receive salaries from the Corporation of the President. Until the 1960s, salaries were based on hierarchy, with the prophet receiving top dollar. This changed when then-President David O. McKay decided that all General Authorities, including the prophet, should receive equal pay.

    The businessmen who run the church’s for-profit arms, by contrast, likely hold salaries comparable to what they’d receive in the secular world, says Quinn. In some cases, individual General Authorities augment their salaries by serving as board members of the church’s for-profit companies. Several have business backgrounds. Monson, for example, has a bachelor’s degree in business and once worked as a newspaper advertising executive.

    DMC is overseen by 10 directors: the members of the First Presidency, the Presiding Bishopric, three senior Apostles, and McMullin. “They give direction to the overall or umbrella company, but they do not give direct supervision to the corporate enterprises,” McMullin says. “That’s done through the respective boards and their executive teams.”

  5. There is really no point in talking to you cause your not even replying to anything, your just continuing to copy and paste, copy and paste, and all your doing is making the church look good.

  6. That last post is pure fiction, there is no salary received by any of the clergy. You cant even post your sources on these claims. everything is “likely” this and “estimate” that. I hope no one is actually stupid enough to believe any of the drivel you regurgitating.

  7. that is not true the church owns all of DMC’s shares. And each year the holding company, like all church businesses, donates 10 percent of its income to a church fund. In some cases money flows in the opposite direction, from the church’s treasury to the businesses. “From time to time, if there is a particular need, there would be some monies available, but fortunately over the years that has not been the case very often,” says McMullin. “If you have a particular reversal in an enterprise, you need to have some additional cash flow until you work through a difficult time. I’ll give you an example, we’re going through one right now: It’s called a recession.” McMullin declined to elaborate on whether the church has been bailing out subsidiaries.

  8. Why dont you boil it down for me and tell me what your trying to prove exactly… Cause now your just rambling.

  9. nope i am just showing the business ventures and capital of the church …..and that is not including the 9 billion in tithing it receives every year world wide

  10. Mitt Romney and others at Bain Capital, the private equity firm he co-founded in 1984, gave the Mormon Church millions’ worth of stock holdings obtained through Bain deals, according to Reuters. Between 1997 and 2009, these included $2 million in Burger King (BKW) and $1 million in Domino’s Pizza (DPZ) shares. Under U.S. law, churches can legally turn around and sell donated stock without paying capital-gains taxes, a clear advantage for both donor and receiver.

  11. yet they only give 1% to charity and 1% on creating temple’s? where is all the other money going?.

  12. Hahaha you must be running out of other peoples words, cause you already posted that one. I dont think your even reading what your posting cause you cant even tell me what your trying to prove.

  13. no cause unlike the u.s. the church has to report its holding and charity stuff to other countries like England or Canada

  14. According to an official church Welfare Services fact sheet, the church gave $1.3 billion in humanitarian aid in over 178 countries and territories during the 25 years between 1985 and 2010. A fact sheet from the previous year indicates that less than one-third of the sum was monetary assistance, while the rest was in the form of “material assistance.” All in all, if one were to evenly distribute that $1.3 billion over a quarter century, it would mean that the church gave $52 million annually. A recently published article co-written by Cragun estimates that the Mormon Church donates only about 0.7 percent of its annual income to charity; the United Methodist Church gives about 29 percent.

  15. well if they are incharge of the church’s money and holding the president of the church is the prophet….why cant he translate just like joseph smith …why is he the head?

  16. He can traslate like Joseph Smith, because he is a Prophet. Im trying to remember those stories about the people in the Bible who demanded the prophets show them signs and wonders before they would believe… Is that what your doing?

  17. The church has a billion dollars in cash to spend and it decides to use the money for a mall? This is a decision one might reasonably expect from a corporation. But what kind of church owns a billion-dollar mall?

  18. I understand you are easily confused, but you seem to be having a hard time differentiating the church and the church’s holdings. The church didn’t spend a billion dollars on a mall. The corporation owned by the church built a mall. There is a difference.

  19. We are supposed to believe that of all the things Jesus would tell the profits , He told the Prophet to buy a mall? For ten years, the only new light and knowledge given to the world by Jesus through His Prophet are the doctrines of “no penny poker,” “no multiple earrings,” and “no gay rights.” And now we are expected to believe that Jesus’ latest revelation is the need for His church to get in the shopping mall business?

  20. The witnesses never claimed to be prophets, so no it wouldnt make much sense to write that on the book would it?

  21. i call it Hypocrisy, The church will profit from stores that cater to the latest fashion trends, Hollywood styles, and other things the General Authorities routinely decry at General Conference. And I bet they’ll be open on Sunday. Another example of “do as I say and not as I do.”

  22. I dont think the church has claimed that God told them to build the mall… The mall was already there, they renovated it as part of a multibillion dollar down town revitalization project, in conjunction with the city of salt lake, as well as the state of utah and even a few other church’s. Nice try though.

  23. The prophets has said the church is not wealthy, that its holdings mainly are revenue drains not revenue producers, and that the church relies on tithing to generate income. But at the same time, he says tithing was not used for the mall purchase. So, the church has enough revenue-producing holdings to throw off a billion dollars or more in cash to buy a decaying shopping mall and yet Prophet scolds the media for reporting that the church is wealthy.

  24. “You will bet” huh? Maybe you should do some research before opening your mouth and inserting foot. It is actually closed Sundays, and although there are no rules against selling clothing that is in fashion, there are rules put forth that would promote and uphold the values of the church.

  25. no the church has stated that the money for the mall “didn’t come from tithing money but church owned revenue”

  26. Where has the “Prophet” (which Prophet you fail to name) said the church isnt wealthy? You spent a good part of your afternoon copy and pasting statments showing that the church is in fact wealthy, now you claim its not? Duh, the coprorations and private holding owned by the church is wealthy. Big deal.

  27. big deal!!! we pay 10% of our income to wealthy orginization that can buy a mall at will……no questions asked ?

  28. They founded SLC, and at one time DID own it! If you knew your Mormon history you would know they went there after having been driven out and murdered in all the other places they tried to settle. Have you taken the time to look into the private holding owned by the Catholic Church? You would see they own a lot more than a single mall.

  29. they get 9 billiion dollars tithing world wide …0.7 percent is used for charity and 3 % used to build temples ..where all the other money being used for?…

  30. if you knew your history they were driven out cause sex scandals, the Danites thugs and the navoo legion acting like thugs

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