Farm household income forecast up in 2012 and 2013, varies by source and level by farm typology

A chart showing the median farm family income, median off farm income, and median total income of farm operator households, by farm type.

Median total farm household income is forecast to increase by 1.2 percent in 2012, to $57,723, and by an additional 1.9 percent in 2013, to $58,845. Given the broad USDA definition of a farm, many farms are not profitable even in the best farm income years. Despite high prices for many crops, 2012 was no exception, with median income from farming projected to be -$2,799. On the other hand, commercial farms (those with $250,000 or more in gross sales) derive the majority of their income from farming. Their median income from farming increased by 7.9 percent in 2011, as did their total household income. (Income forecasts by farm typology are not available for 2012 and 2013.) Gains in income for households associated with smaller farms—whether farming is considered the operator’s primary occupation (referred to as intermediate farms) or not (residential farms)—came from higher off-farm income in 2011. This chart is found in the Farm Household Well-being topic page on the ERS website, updated February 11, 2013.

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