Agricultural Economy

(Selected research findings from Fiscal Year 2019)

Farm income indicators and forecasts measure the financial performance of the U.S. farm sector.

ERS provides authoritative information on the financial health of the farm sector, including the performance of farm businesses and well-being of farm households. In the most recent statement, ERS forecasted a 4.8 percent increase in 2019 net farm income relative to 2018 estimates. Over the same time period, the median income of farm operator households is expected to increase 3.7 percent. Published three times a year, these core statistical indicators provide guidance to policy makers, lenders, commodity organizations, farmers, and others interested in the financial status of the farm economy.  ERS’s farm income statistics also inform the computation of agriculture’s contribution to the gross domestic product for the U.S. economy in the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) statistics for Gross Domestic Product. 

Potential Variability in Commodity Support: Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage Programs.

ERS researchers estimated the potential range of the Government’s cost for the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs over the next ten years for the three largest covered commodities—corn, soybeans, and wheat. Simulating program costs at both the county and national levels indicates program expenditures could vary widely due to uncertainty in commodity markets. Using the USDA Agricultural Projections to 2028, ERS researchers generated a range of potential commodity prices used to estimate possible ARC and PLC payment levels.


Field under cloudy skyAn Overview of Beginning Farms and Farmers.

Using information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS), ERS researchers examined the structural and economic characteristics of beginning farms and how they differ from more established operations. ERS defines a beginning farm or ranch as one on which all the operators have had no more than ten years of experience as a farm or ranch operator. The report provided information about the size and commodity specialization of beginning farms and described the sources of income, borrowing, wealth, and indebtedness of beginning farm principal operators.