Office of Research

Online Tools for Farmers and Producers

MarketMaker is an interactive website developed by University of Illinois Extension researchers and designed to connect producers, processors, retailers, consumers, and other food supply chain participants. MarketMaker began as a database of Illinois businesses. It was so successful that other states have joined the effort, making it a national network of interconnected sites. The initiative is a multistate partnership of land grant institutions and state agricultural agencies.

Farm Analysis Solution Tools (FAST) is a suite of 41 decision tools combined under a common interface to help farmers make financial and management decisions. It was developed by Gary Schnitkey, Bruce Sherrick, and Paul Ellinger. FAST is comprehensive, interactive, and user-friendly -- setting it apart from other efforts in the field. The tools are used by a wide range of audiences, including agricultural lenders and farm consultants. More than 30,000 CDs have been distributed and another 23,000 users have downloaded the tools from the website. USDA's Risk Management Agency has picked up on the program and provided financial support for a series of FAST workshops that have been used in over 50 U of I Extension presentations over a three-year time period.

Farm Decision Outreach Central (FARMDOC) is an award-winning agricultural economics website that has been a mainstay for producers throughout the Midwest since it first came on the scene a decade ago. Farmers, according to independent surveys, tend to seek out local retailers and information on the web. FarmDOC is different, with more than 1,000,000 unique visitors annually. It is a powerhouse website on the global scene, with a worldwide audience seeking out the risk management tools and information developed by U of I faculty.