Home News Local News Local rancher secures parcel with $150K bid

Local rancher secures parcel with $150K bid

A public auction Wednesday by the New Mexico State Land Office concludes with Ken Barbe, second from right, offering the only bid for the 147 acres in Chaves County. Assistant Commissioner for the Commercial Resources Division Craig Johnson presides over the auction, while Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, third from right, and Chad Barbe observe. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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The sale Wednesday of a New Mexico State Land Office parcel in Chaves County was a quiet and sparsely attended event, ending quickly with a local ranching family securing the land with its $150,000 bid.

The only people attending the public auction on the front steps of the downtown Chaves County Courthouse were the bidders, Kenneth Barbe Jr. and son Chad Barbe of Adelante Farms, and State Land Office Commissioner Aubrey Dunn and Assistant Commissioner for the Commercial Resources Division Craig Johnson.

In less than four minutes, the auction had concluded with Ken Barbe offering the $150,000 minimum bid required to purchase grazing land that his family has been leasing for about 60 years. He declined to offer a bonus amount.

“Congratulations, you have made the only authorized bid and I am authorized to accept the bid,” said Johnson.

“I am doing it for security,” Barbe told the group, later explaining that he would rather purchase the land now then risk that at some point in the future the 147-acre parcel, about eight miles east of Roswell on Woodbine Way, would be repurposed and his family would no longer be able to use it for its cattle operation.

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Johnson confirmed that Adelante Farms had been the only entity to submit an application and deposit by the Aug. 20 deadline.

Barbe said that he has been paying $137 a year to lease the land for grazing purposes, which means he could have leased it for about 91 years for the price he paid to purchase it. But that would assume that the land would remain open for grazing and available at its current rates.

The sale entails the surface land only, as the State Land Office is prohibited from selling mineral rights. Although a state appraisal put the value of the land at $62,000, Commissioner Dunn determined the minimum bid price.

Barbe and the State Land Office now have 45 days to enter into sales agreement and 90 days to conclude the transaction.

The sale is only the second to occur by the state office since January 2015. More than 49,000 acres in the city of Rio Rancho, with a minimum bid of $2.51 million, are expected to be auctioned off in late 2018. Rio Rancho officials and developers plan to create housing on the land.

The State Land Office now owns about 9 million surface acres in 32 of New Mexico’s 33 counties. Most of the earnings from leases, rentals and sales go to specified beneficiaries, including public schools and higher education institutions, hospitals and some public projects.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.