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February 17, 2020


Angie Poss, Assistant Commissioner of Communications


Grazing Fees on State Trust Land Decline for Fourth Year

SANTA FE, NM – The State Land Office, in accordance with NMAC, has updated the fee assessed to ranchers and farmers who lease state trust land for livestock grazing. Misconceptions have been presented to State Land Office staff regarding how the grazing fee for state trust land is set. The annual rental amount is calculated using a formula that has been in state statute since 1988. The formula is determined using various factors such as private grazing land lease rates, beef cattle prices, and the cost of livestock production. The amount is first calculated by State Land Office experts, and is then verified by a neutral third party expert. 

The 2021 calculation amounts to a 2.54% decrease, compared to 2020, in grazing fees for ranchers that lease state trust land for agriculture purposes. The slight drop in the 2021 grazing fee can be largely attributed to a decrease in beef cattle prices across 11 Western states.   

“Fees for livestock grazing on state trust land remain affordable, with 2021 being the fourth year in a row that the per-acre lease amount has decreased for farmers and ranchers that do business with the State Land Office,” Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard said.  “Given the added stressors of the Covid-19 pandemic, the ongoing drought and its varying ramifications on our communities, this decrease in rent is one area that we hope our traditional agricultural communities can look to as a slight sign of relief and better things to come as we work together to make our way out of this pandemic.”

The new grazing fee for 2021 translates to an average rate of $4.85 per animal unit month (AUM), down slightly from $4.98 in 2020.  For grazing lessees this means an average fee of $ 0.91 per-acre. The calculation of the fee has been verified and confirmed by Dr. Nick Ashcroft to assure accuracy. Dr. Ashcroft is a Senior Analyst at New Mexico State University’s Linebery Policy Center for Natural Resource Management.

Money received by the State Land Office from rent paid by grazing lessees is deposited into the Land Maintenance Fund and is then distributed monthly to state trust land beneficiaries which include New Mexico public schools, hospitals, and universities.

The new grazing rental fee will go into effect October 31, 2021.

Under the leadership of Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard, the New Mexico State Land Office has seen back-to-back years of revenue over $1 billion. Over 13 million acres of state trust land are leased for a variety of uses, including ranching and farming, renewable energy, business development, mineral development, and outdoor recreation. The money earned from leasing activity supports 22 beneficiaries – New Mexico public schools, seven universities and colleges, the School for the Deaf, the School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, three hospitals, water and land conservation projects, and public building construction and repair.