Secure your farm's future with SDSU Extension’s Sustaining the Legacy conferences

South Dakota State University Extension

It’s time to start thinking about the future, but you’re not sure how. Maybe you aren’t sure how to successfully transfer your farm or ranch to your children, or how to provide for the children who didn’t stay on the operation. Maybe you need to know how to earn enough to support yourself while passing on the operation to your children. 

South Dakota State University Extension can answer these questions and more during the Sustaining the Legacy conferences that start in December and run through April. 

Whether you’ve been farming or ranching for 10 years or 60, SDSU Extension Livestock Business Management Field Specialist Heather Gessner said it’s important for every operation to have a plan. Setting goals and making plans can be confusing and overwhelming, though. And it can be time consuming and expensive to find attorneys, insurance agents, and accountants who specialize in agriculture. Sustaining the Legacy gives participants access to those professionals all at once, Gessner said, so they learn what tools are available.

It’s also a time to help families set goals – minimize taxes, provide for long-term care, provide equally for heirs while continuing to operate. 

“We try to think, ‘this is what we want to have happen with our family at the end of the day’ and then we start asking ‘how?’” Gessner said. 

Sustaining the Legacy has been the SDSU Extension farm and ranch estate planning and farm transition program since 2006. This winter and spring it will return to the multi-day format held in five cities across the state over the course of five months. 

Gessner said returning to this format gives families more time to work together during the event to create estate plans. 

This year’s topics include: 

  • Trusts 
  • Business structures, LLCs and corporations
  • Life insurance
  • Wills and probate
  • Titling property
  • Contracts
  • Retirement planning for landowners
  • How to access retirement benefits (Medicare, Social Security)
  • Goals and family meetings/communication styles

The first series of conferences will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. MT Dec. 7, 14 and 21 in Rapid City, South Dakota. Lunch will be provided. Each conference has room for about 40 participants, and Gessner recommends families attend together so everyone hears the same message and can meet the professionals they may work with for years to come.

Tickets are $60 per person by the early registration date, after which tickets are $80 per person. People can register up to the day of the event provided space is available, however, early registration is highly encouraged. 

Dates and Locations

  • Dec. 7, 14, & 21: Rapid City, South Dakota. Best Western Ramkota, 2111 North LaCrosse St. Early registration ends Nov. 23.
  • Jan. 5, 12 & 19: Yankton, South Dakota. Best Western Kelly Inn, 1607 E. Highway 50. Early registration ends Dec. 22.
  • Feb. 7, 14, 21: Pierre, South Dakota. Red Rossa, 808 West Sioux Avenue, Suite 200. Early registration ends Jan. 24.
  • March 7, 14, 21: Aberdeen, South Dakota. Dakota Event Center, 720 Lamont St. Early registration ends Feb. 21. 
  • April 4, 11 & 18: Mitchell, South Dakota. Highland Convention Center, 2000 Highland Way. Early registration ends March 21.

To learn more, please visit the SDSU Extension events page and search for “Sustaining the Legacy Conference.” For questions and additional information, contact Heather Gessner, SDSU Extension Livestock Business Management Field Specialist, at or 605-782-3290.