If you’re looking for answers to your farm transition questions or simply wanting to review your current plan, consider attending the 2024 Farm Transitions Conference Feb. 8-9 in Ames.

This two-day event is organized by the Beginning Farmer Center at Iowa State University and features locally and nationally recognized speakers, as well as farmers and producers from Iowa.

Day one: Transition planning

The first day will focus on transition planning, with a welcome address by Bill Northey, former Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. He will talk about his experiences with Iowa agriculture and the importance of transition planning in the face of uncertainty.

David Oppedahl, a policy advisor with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, will discuss recent land values and inflation trends that are impacting agriculture, followed by the “2024 Ag Market Outlook” by Chad Hart, extension grain market economist with ISU Extension and Outreach.

According to the 2022 Iowa Farmland Ownership and Tenure survey, 80% of Iowa farmland is owned by someone not planning to sell. As such, the importance of farm leases and negotiations will continue to increase for both beginning and established farmers as well as farmland owners. Ann Johanns, program specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, will join extension ag economist Alejandro Plastina and Jeff Troendale, of Hertz Farm Management, for a discussion on the critical role of farm leases in long-term business planning.

In the afternoon, speakers will address topics including Iowa’s new retired farmer income tax law, beginning farmer loans and tax credits, tools for transferring farm management, and the USDA’s role in supporting farmers.

The first day will conclude with a presentation by Kiley Fleming, of the Iowa Mediation Service, on the importance of communicating your goals to the people who are impacted by your decisions. Attendees will learn practical ways to navigate generational differences and reframe difficult conversations.

“Whether you want to begin farming, you are looking to transition your farm to the next generation, or you are a producer somewhere in between, this conference is for you,” said Kitt Tovar Jensen, manager of the Beginning Farmer Center. “Come learn about opportunities, pitfalls to avoid and tools required for a successful farm transition.”

Day two: Estate planning

The second day will cover many themes in estate planning. Attendees will be empowered to make strategic decisions after learning more about the available legal tools, potential tax implications and the basics of farmland appraisals.

Jeanne Bernick, of Pinion (formerly K·Coe Isom), will discuss the role strategic thinking plays in the success of any operation, whether just beginning or fine-tuning after years of planning.

The same morning, Jennifer Harrington, staff attorney with the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation at Iowa State, will discuss the different types of asset ownership that can affect farm succession, as well as common legal tools like wills, trusts and substitute decision-making options.

Harrington’s colleague, Kristine Tidgren, will discuss how taxes will impact the transfer of assets. Tidgren is the director of the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation at Iowa State University. This session will cover potential tax liabilities that can occur during life and upon death.

Afternoon speakers include Paul Dietmann, of Compeer Financial, who will discuss the various strategies and resources available for accessing farmland. Catherine DeLong, water quality program manager with ISU Extension and Outreach, will discuss the pivotal role of conservation strategies in preserving agriculture’s legacy.

The conference will conclude with a panel discussion of farmers Kathy and Caroll Hoksbergen of Pella. The couple recently decided to sell their fourth-generation farm to new, non-family owners and will share their experiences and advice.

“I am really excited about this year’s event and the lineup of quality speakers who will be presenting,” said Tovar Jensen. “We have attorneys, tax preparers, lenders, mediators and everyone else associated with farm succession. Equally important, we have actual farmers who will share real-world experiences.”

Register to attend in person or through a live-streamed webinar by Jan. 31 to reserve your complimentary copy of Estate and Succession Planning for the Farm, a 100-page workbook published this fall by ISU Extension and Outreach.

To register, visit For more information, visit the Beginning Farmer website. Tovar Jensen can be reached at 515-357-6680 or

Kitt Tovar Jensen
Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation

Iowa State University Extension & Outreach

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