Preserving Our Heritage - Farmland Retention

SMIF's Preserving Our Heritage program provides a means of giving that preserves one of the greatest natural assets of southern Minnesota: farmland. SMIF retains the gifted land as an asset, allowing it to continue to be farmed. And your land provides a lasting legacy for the community and region.

The benefits

  • Farmland retention represents an opportunity for rural philanthropy
  • Farmland retention is a tool for landowners, especially those without an heir, as a way to continue supporting the charities near and dear to them
  • Keeps land locally-owned and functional as farmland, providing a lasting legacy to the community and region

Why now?

  • $7 billion in wealth is set to transfer in SMIF’s 20-county region by 2030, much of this in the form of land.
  • Estimated current value of farmland in south central and southeastern Minnesota is $50 billion.
  • The average age of farmers is 57.5 years and climbing (2017 USDA Ag Census).
  • You are able to make a long-lasting impact on rural Minnesota.

Choose to benefit the region, your local community or a cause you care about

  • Regional benefit: Put a donation toward SMIF's general endowment, Youth Trust Fund, or Entrepreneur Fund to benefit the 20-county region of southern Minnesota.
  • Community benefit: If your community has a local community foundation managed by SMIF, land assets can benefit local charitable efforts.
  • Pick a cause: Set up a Donor Advised Fund to allocate resources to your different interests and values, whether a portion to your place of worship, alma mater, or community fund.

How it Works: You Decide

  • Retain as farmland: Have SMIF manage farmland after passing; annual rental income will fulfill charitable wishes of the donor by flowing through one of SMIF's local Community Foundations, SMIF's endowment fund or a Donor Advised Fund.
  • Sell land: Allocate all or portion of assets earned to SMIF's endowment, local Community Foundation, or Donor Advised Fund.
  • Additional Options: 
    • Donate now: Keep farming or renting and retain rental income for life. Donor receives immediate tax deduction on charitable portion of the gift.
    • Include in estate plan: Land is bequeathed to SMIF after passing.

For more information on gifting farmland through the Preserving Our Heritage program contact Jennifer Nelson at 507-214-7025 or

Hear Tim Penny discuss the program on the Brownfield Ag Network with Mark Dorenkamp. 

Read Tim Penny's op-ed about capturing philanthropic wealth in rural communities.

Read Tim Penny's op-ed about preserving our farming heritage and investing in the future.

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