Household income for beginning farms is high due to off-farm sources of income

A chart showing the sources of household income for family farms that operate beginning and established farms, years 2010.

In 2010, beginning farms or ranches accounted for 21 percent of family farms, 10 percent of the value of production by family farms, and 9 percent of acres operated by family farms. The average income of families operating beginning farms was nearly $93,000, which is significantly higher than the average household income for families with established farms (roughly $82,000). On average, beginning farms lost money farming and relied entirely on their off-farm income sources. However, beginning farms that were larger in size, had a principal operator whose major occupation was farming, specialized in crop commodities, dairy, or poultry, participated in government direct payment programs, or engaged in production and marketing contracts were more likely to have positive farm incomes. This chart is from the Beginning & Disadvantaged Farmers topic page on the ERS website, updated May 29, 2012.

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