Cargill Dynasty Gets Richer As Ukraine War Sends Food Prices Soaring

America’s wealthiest agriculture family has gotten even richer as the Ukraine war sends food prices skyrocketing

Hannah Towey

Apr 9, 2022, 9:59 AM

Martha "Muffy" MacMillan speaks during Women’s Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations in 2015. She is one of 12 billionaire heirs to the Cargill dynasty. Jemal Countess/Getty Images

  • The Cargills, an agricultural dynasty going back six generations, are one of America’s richest families.
  • Three more Cargill heirs just joined Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index, bringing the total to five.
  • The Ukraine war has sent food prices to a record high, "hitting the poorest the hardest," the UN says.

Three heirs of the Cargill-MacMillans, a six-generation dynasty that founded the world’s largest agriculture company, have joined Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index — bringing the total number of family members on the list to five.

The Cargill-MacMillans have consistently ranked among the 25 richest families in America, and are currently listed by Forbes as the nation’s fourth-richest family, behind the Waltons, Kochs, and Mars. Together, the family has a combined net worth of $51.6 billion, Bloomberg reported in September.

The recent rise in the secretive family’s fortune comes as the Ukraine war sends food prices around the world to record highs, a trend that will hit "the poorest the hardest," the UN said Friday.

But as rampant inflation and instability spark fears of a global food crisis, Big Agriculture companies have so far benefited from the volatility .

Cargill Inc. made $4.9 billion last year, its highest profit ever, per the Bloomberg report. And public competitors like Tyson Foods, Archer Daniels Midland, and Bunge each out-performed the market this week as the cost of soybeans, grains, and corn surge.

Approximately 90 family members own 88% of Cargill Inc., according to a Forbes profile from 2020. That makes the agriculture and commodities behemoth one of the largest, closely-held private companies in the country.

Cargill was one of the later companies to announce it would be scaling back its business in Russia, despite the fact that a shipping vessel charted by the company was hit by a missile as it left a Southern Ukraine port in late February.

When contacted by Insider, a Cargill spokesperson said they "cannot speak for the family members" and pointed to the company’s statement on the situation in Ukraine posted to its website.

"We are scaling back our business activities there to only operate essential food and feed facilities and have stopped investment," the company announced on March 30. "This region plays a significant role in our global food system and is a critical source for key ingredients in basic staples like bread, infant formula and cereal. Food is a basic human right and should never be used as a weapon."

Cargill will also be donating "any profits from these essential activities to humanitarian aid," the statement continued.