The Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri has developed a free online tool to help farmers build projected budgets for their operations.

The Farm Cost and Return Tool, or Farm CART, is especially useful for beginning farmers or those looking to grow their operations, says FAPRI economist Peter Zimmel.

FAPRI and USDA baseline projections for many input costs are already programmed into the tool, so there is very little information that producers need to enter to begin using the tool.

Zimmel says one of the main benefits of Farm CART is that it allows beginning farmers or producers who want to make a change to their operations to assess their options before actually spending any money.

You can find Farm CART at