COLUMBIA, Mo. – A new University of Missouri Extension publication and related online tool can guide farmers through the difficult task of keeping the farm running when the owner or key decision-maker cannot.

When someone becomes ill or incapacitated, family members often struggle with finding key information, says MU Extension agricultural business and policy specialist Mary Sobba.

Short-Term Operating Plan for Farms and Ranches” (MU Extension publication M202) gives guidelines for operation of the farm for two weeks to six months.

“Locating key information can be stressful and time-consuming,” says Sobba. “This plan will help reduce stress and save time.”

The free guide, which is available as a fillable, printable PDF, breaks down key information into categories – general, livestock, crop, horticulture, woodlands/timber, equipment, etc. Sobba recommends a yearly review and update of information.

Sobba and MU Extension county engagement specialists Joni Harper, Catherine Neuner and Kyle Whitaker wrote the guide. They also worked with a team at the University of Minnesota to incorporate the content into AgPlan, a free online tool to create customized business plans. The AgPlan website lets users store their password-protected data and share it with selected individuals.

People can use the guide, the website or both. Some people may choose to start with a paper copy to gather the data then enter it into the website to share with other family members, Sobba says.

Sobba reminds users that the plan does not take the place of legal and professional advice.

Download “Short-Term Operating Plan for Farms and Ranches” at

The AgPlan online tool is at