Ranching and Agriculture

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The posthumously published memoirs of one of Modrall Sperling's founding partners, Dick Modrall (whose art-purveying wife, Constance Modrall, we have to thank for assembling our Art Collection), is titled "My Fifty Years of Practicing Law and Punching Cows in New Mexico." This title, and his illustrious career (along with that of Jim Sperling and others), aptly symbolizes our long tradition of involvement with New Mexico's ranching and agricultural community. Our roots with ranching and farming run almost as deep as the ties that many historic New Mexico families have to their rural lands.

The types of representation we have provided to the ranching and agricultural community has been as varied as the New Mexico landscape. We have assisted with grazing leases and allotments on state lands, and on federal lands under the Taylor Grazing Act. We have assisted with purchases, sales and leases of ranches, farms, water rights and equipment. Our lawyers have advised and represented ranch owners on split-estate issues and access for mineral exploration and development, including notice rights of owners under regulations pertaining to Stock Raising and Homestead Act (SRHA) lands. We also have litigated on behalf of ranch owners in disputes among owners of split-estate lands. Our lawyers have been involved with financing and collateralization of ranch and farm lands; ranching and agricultural loans; conservation easements and associated tax credits; insurance issues, including hazard and drought insurance; perfection, sale, permitting, leasing and use of water and water rights; special border issues involving immigration and homeland security dealings; and title issues.



  • Represented a ranch in connection with the negotiation and drafting of a humate agreement.
  • Represented two ranches in a lawsuit brought by a uranium prospector who sought to avoid his contractual obligations, and obtained a complete dismissal of the claims against the ranches, leaving only counterclaims asserted by the ranches.
  • Represented ranch owners in successfully fending off a mine developer's attempt to gain access to split-estate lands under the notice regulations under the SRHA.
  • Represented the owner of multiple ranches in connection with a complex transaction to post the ranches as collateral, including overseeing title, environmental appraisal and mortgage issues.
  • Represented ranch owners in negotiating and entering into entry and easement agreements to allow border patrol and border fence construction by federal agencies and officials.
  • Represented ranch owners in a wide range of land and financing-related instruments, tax and insurance coverage issues.
  • Represented landowners seeking to preserve the rural character of their lands in perpetuity through the voluntary imposition of perpetual conservation easements.
  • Successfully litigated against two state agencies after the agencies arbitrarily and capriciously denied and landowner available tax credits for granting a conservation easement.