Passing down the family farm? This annual conference can help smoothen the transition

South Dakota State University Extension

The International Farm Transition Network (IFTN) will host its annual conference in Lincoln, Nebraska from June 8-9.

The IFTN works to educate and improve industry professionals' skills, working with farmers and ranchers on their transition and estate plans.

There are many ways the transition to the next generation occurs. However, the biggest reason for problems is generally a lack of communication about goals, expectations, fears and desires the involved family members may have.

“As the national average age of the farmer increases, more land will transition to a new owner and operator,” said Heather Gessner, SDSU Extension Livestock Business Management Field Specialist. “Within the next ten years, a lot of ground is going to change owners, either through a family transition or by a sale to a non-related individual.”

The transition dilemma is not a situation unique to South Dakota or the United States – the IFTN is a resource for professionals worldwide to share the latest research and learn from each other.

“Serving on the IFTN board helps me bring the best resources back to South Dakota,” said Gessner, who has been an IFTN board member for three years. “We work collaboratively to help increase the number of multi-generational farms and ranches across the world.”

Successfully-used communication tools and research from around the globe will be featured in presentations at the 2022 conference. Keynote speaker and professor Alison Sheridan from the University of New England's Business School in Australia will share her research on intergenerational farm succession in an Australian context.

The variety of taxes related to estate plans is also a factor farm families need to consider when making a transition to a new generation or when selling their farm. Kitt Tovar-Jensen from the Iowa State University Center for Agriculture Law and Tax will provide an update on tax law changes affecting the farm transition.

Breakout sessions and networking opportunities, including a panel of farmers sharing their estate planning experiences, fill out the itinerary.

“Breakout sessions are a great way to pick up a new skill, method or idea related to working with a variety of family members involved in the farm transition,” Gessner said.

IFTN members are attorneys, financial planners, accountants, mediators, Extension staff, insurance agents, mediators and various other professionals that work with farmers and ranchers on their estate and farm transition plans.

Those interested in attending can find more information about IFTN's mission and the IFTN conference on the International Farm Transition Network website.

For more information contact Heather Gessner, SDSU Extension Livestock Business Management Field Specialist, at or (605) 782-3290.