This article is part of a larger series on Accounting Software.
The best farm accounting software should be able to handle farm-specific accounting tasks like creating cost centers to track profit and loss by specific farm unit. It should also manage inventory items like feed and grain, track activities related to fixed assets, and track personal income and expenses. We looked at a mix of online and desktop accounting software created specifically for farming and ranching, as well as the top general accounting packages, to find the best software for your farm.
Here are the seven best accounting software options for farmers:
- QuickBooks Desktop: Best overall accounting software for farmers and ranchers
- QuickBooks Online: Best cloud-based accounting software for farmers and ranchers
- FarmBooks: Most affordable farm-specific software
- EasyFarm: Best for self-employed farmers
- The Farmer’s Office: Best software for detailed cost accounting by farmers and ranchers
- CenterPoint Accounting for Agriculture: Best farm-specific accounting software for use by internal finance and accounting pros
- Sunrise: Best free accounting software for farmers to track income and expense
Comparison of Best Farm Accounting Software
Overall FSB Rating (Out of 10)
Rating of General Accounting Features
(Out of 10)
Separate Farm & Personal Expenses
Track Ag Inventory
Create Cost Centers
Track Fixed Assets
From $349.99 per year
From $25 per month
Free or starts at $19.99 per month
QuickBooks Desktop: Best Overall Accounting Software for Farmers and Ranchers
QuickBooks Desktop has no farm management features, but it brings in a lot of customization for farming operations, including the ability to assign income and expenses to specific cost centers or enterprises, which helps you track your yields and profitability better. QuickBooks Desktop also has robust general accounting features that might be useful for farmers, such as accounts payable (A/P) and accounts receivable (A/R). QuickBooks Desktop also allows you to keep the books of multiple farms, making it our choice for overall best multicompany accounting software.
- Industry-specific reports: Track your profitability by product, client, or project, depending on how you want to see your performance. With QuickBooks Desktop, you can generate reports on different areas of your business for analysis.
- Cash and accrual reports: Reports can be printed using either accrual or cash-basis accounting. Cash basis reports can help farm managers identify cash flows and assess how to maintain or fix cash flow issues.
- Class and location tracking: Just like its cloud-based counterpart, QuickBooks Desktop has class and location tracking to help farm managers classify operations and set locations for performance evaluation.
- Create Cost Centers: Cost centers are a great feature to help you track income and expenses across specific elements of your farm, such as fields and herds.
QuickBooks Desktop is an affordable yet comprehensive accounting program that can be customized to any business requirements, including farm operations. The QuickBooks Desktop Pro edition usually is sufficient for farmers, but those who need forecasting or advanced job costing should upgrade to QuickBooks Premier.
As it’s an on-premises software program, QuickBooks Desktop is great for farmers who don’t have an internet connection or have a low-speed connection. It’s easy to share your books with an external accountant or certified public accountant (CPA) at tax time by creating an accountant’s copy that will allow them to make changes to your books.
QuickBooks Online: Best Cloud-based Accounting Software for Farmers
QuickBooks Online has most of the same features as QuickBooks Desktop but is more expensive. In exchange for the additional cost, farmers get remote access to all relevant data without having to sit at a desk. It’s also easier for you to share your data with your accountant because files can be shared through the cloud. QuickBooks Online is flexible enough that it can be customized to nearly any business, making it our top pick among the best accounting software for small businesses.
- Class and location tracking: In farm accounting, classes help farm managers classify groups of assets or expenses by crop or livestock. Location tracking can also be used to track individual fields.
- Access to QuickBooks ProAdvisors: A large QuickBooks Online ProAdvisors network makes it very easy to set up your books. Plus, you can share your books with your accountant to make tax time extremely simple.
- Cost Centers: QuickBooks Online also lets you assign income and expenses to cost centers or enterprises to help you gauge the productivity of your farm business.
Our Expert Opinion
QuickBooks Online has outstanding general accounting features that can be customized easily for farm operations. While it doesn’t come tailored to farms out of the box, it’s easy to set up classes and locations to track income and expenses by your cost centers and enterprises. You can get even more detailed by using project tracking to track small parts of an enterprise, such as particular breeding stock or fields.
FarmBooks: Most Affordable Farm-specific Software
FarmBooks is a desktop-based farm accounting application. The biggest strength of FarmBooks is its pricing—it’s the most affordable farm-specific program on our list. Despite its low price tag, FarmBooks doesn’t fall short of the features we look for in farm accounting software. For instance, FarmBooks includes real-time inventory for crops and livestock, and it tracks both farm and personal income and expenses.
- Specialized chart of accounts: FarmBooks provides a specialized chart of accounts, making it easy for farmers to maintain the books, even if they don’t have an accounting background.
- Financial reports: FarmBooks’ financial reports can provide insightful information about farm performance and liquidity. They contain financial analysis, basic financial statements, Schedule F, cash flow statements, and more.
- Inventory management: A notable feature of FarmBooks’ inventory management is its real-time inventory for crops, key dates, and weight measures for livestock. Animal births, weanings, and deaths can also be tracked.
Our Expert Opinion
If you need full-featured farm accounting software and you’re on a tight budget, FarmBooks is your best option. For less than $400, you get all the must-have features that you need to manage both farm and nonfarm transactions. It has a specially designed chart of accounts and customized reports for farmers. FarmBooks’ main drawback is that each farm requires an additional fee, so it might not be the best choice for farmers with multiple farm locations.
We found the program a little difficult to learn, which is, in part, why it scored only 2.5 out of 10 points for ease of use. It utilizes a unique coding structure in its chart of accounts to help categorize transactions automatically, which is intended to make bookkeeping easier for nonbookkeepers. We think the system will work well and could be very convenient, but it will take time to get the codes set correctly. Once you learn the unique workflow of FarmBooks, we think it’s a great affordable solution for farmers and ranchers.
EasyFarm: Best for Self-Employed Farmers
We recommend EasyFarm for self-employed farmers who wish to track their household and farm income and expenses on the same platform. It can be used to track both farm and nonfarm transactions, making it a flexible farm accounting solution. Many self-employed farmers also use EasyFarm to report their farm income and expenses on Form 1040, Schedule F.
- Single-entry input: The single-entry input is an easy solution for people without a solid background in double-entry bookkeeping. You can record multiple items in a single entry, which effectively reduces data entry time.
- Cost centers: Creating cost centers helps you track income and expenses by fields, herds, and other farm elements. Moreover, these cost centers can help you allocate costs strategically and appropriately.
- FINPACK Exports: EasyFarm exports to FINPACK, a software program for financial and credit analysis of farm and agricultural producers.
- Payroll: EasyFarm lets you manage your farm payroll through its check writer, time and cost assignment, and tax withholding features.
Our Expert Opinion
Farmers who tend to mix their personal and farm income and expenses can benefit from EasyFarm. It isn’t the most affordable farm accounting software, but it offers plenty of farm-specific features for your money, such as the ability to create cost centers to track income and expenses across a specific element of your farm business, which helps you make informed decisions.
The Farmer’s Office: Best for Detailed Cost Accounting for Farmers and Ranchers
The Farmer’s Office, by Datatech, is ideal for farmers and ranch managers who want to rely on detailed cost accounting to see which of their crops, farms, or livestock is profitable. With The Farmer’s Office, you can create a cost center, such as field, crop, or ranch. to track how much you make and spend on a specific component of your business. If you manage multiple farms, crops, and livestock, The Farmer’s Office’s detailed cost accounting is a great choice.
- Cost accounting: Farms need dedicated cost accounting functions to keep track of costs, overhead, and other farm-related expenses. Farmer’s Office lets you create crop and equipment cost centers to compute materials, labor, and overhead used in farming activities. You can also generate cost accounting reports, like crop reports, expense reports, and variance analysis reports.
- Crop budgeting: Crop budgeting is helpful for keeping track of costs and applying for loans. Budgets can also be a performance indicator when analyzing variances.
- Pesticide application reporting: Another useful feature of Farmer’s Office is its pesticide application reporting. It helps you monitor pesticide activities, including materials used during application. This feature can also help in production since pesticides help secure a high yield from farm products.
Our Expert Opinion
The Farmer’s Office comes with enhanced cost-accounting features, which are extremely important for farm planning and decision-making. These features include crop budgeting, equipment costing, crop-year tracking, and consolidated reporting. Using cost centers or enterprises, The Farmer’s Office tracks your income and expenses based on specific elements of your farm like fields and herds. It also includes chemical inventory and pesticide application reporting systems, which help farmers avoid the overapplication of pesticides and chemicals. Farm managers can use the customized payroll features to manage their farm employees’ salaries and deductions better.
CenterPoint Accounting for Agriculture: Best for Ag Companies With In-house Accountants
CenterPoint Accounting for Agriculture, by Red Wing Software, is our top pick for farm companies with in-house bookkeepers. It’s a locally installed farm accounting software, which means you can only access your files from the computer where it’s installed. Additionally, CenterPoint has a very comprehensive set of farm-specific accounting features, making it suitable for experienced in-house bookkeepers.
- Production analysis tool: The production analysis tool can help with farm management decisions, such as those involving profitability and cost control. This feature also uses geospatial maps to show production details visually.
- Ratio analysis: Decision-makers will like ratio analysis because it can help them assess the performance, liquidity, and profitability of the business.
- Management accounting module: This module tracks income and expenses on an actual cost basis rather than an accrual basis. With this module, farm managers can see the flow of actual costs and how it impacts cash flow and income. Moreover, this feature lets you set up profit and cost centers to help in tracking performance for responsibility centers and accountable employees.
Our Expert Opinion
CenterPoint Accounting for Agriculture is ideal if you’re working with an in-house accounting, finance, or tax professional. It has a strong set of farm-specific features, such as the ability to track fixed assets, manage farm inventory, track personal income and expenses, and build cost centers or enterprises for detailed income and expense tracking. It’s also rich in general accounting features, which are nearly on par with QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online. A major difference is that it doesn’t allow you to connect your bank or credit card accounts. Nonetheless, it’s a versatile software program and can be a great help for agricultural firms wanting to scale up their business.
Sunrise: Best Free Accounting Software for Farmers
If you simply need to compile your income and expenses, then Sunrise might be enough for you. Sunrise has a free basic plan that allows you to perform basic accounting duties like tracking invoices, managing bills and expenses, and creating financial reports. Sunrise has no farm-specific accounting features, but it can help you keep your books in order. We chose Sunrise as our overall best free accounting software program.
- Invoicing: For a free application, Sunrise has terrific invoicing features, such as the ability to create recurring invoices and accept short payments from customers. This feature is useful for farmers who sell agricultural products and services directly to consumers.
- Bill tracking: You can enter bills as you receive them and Sunrise will track them until paid.
If you don’t need farm-specific features or you’re using other apps to manage your farm operations, you can use Sunrise to focus on tracking your income and expenses. The invoicing feature, which is offered for free, is great if you’re selling products and services to customers.
How We Evaluated Farm Accounting Software
Using an internal scoring rubric, we scored our seven best farm accounting software programs based on their affordability, ease of use, available support, and the ability to manage general accounting and farm-accounting tasks. Our evaluation boils down to five categories, as explained below.
10% of Overall Score
Each application is evaluated based on its upfront cost and the number of users included. Software providers that don’t disclose pricing information received the lowest scores.
30% of Overall Score
General accounting features like bill tracking, invoicing, and bank account reconciliation are essential to farm operations.
20% of Overall Score
The main farm features we like to see include the ability to track personal income and expenses, track and manage fixed assets, create cost centers or enterprises, and manage farm inventory.
20% of Overall Score
Most farmers have no bookkeeping experience, so the best farm accounting software should be easy to use and provide reliable customer service for first-time users.
20% of Overall Score
Our experts conducted a subjective evaluation of each software program across several factors, such as ease of use, features, and popularity.
The best farm accounting software depends on your budget and farm business needs. If you need locally installed accounting software with powerful accounting features, choose QuickBooks Desktop. If you’re working with an off-site bookkeeper, you might prefer QuickBooks Online. If you’re looking for features specific to farm management, like the ability to track farm inventory items, CenterPoint Accounting for Agriculture or The Farmer’s Office might be a good choice. If you only need simple tracking of income and expenses and can’t afford premium accounting software, you can settle for Sunrise.