Data on farm household income and characteristics come from USDA's annual Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS). Changes in survey methodology, sampling, or response rates can influence estimates derived from survey data.
In 2021, the most recent survey year, the total number of farm and family farm records used to calculate farm household statistics was 13,716 and 12,948, respectively. Both farm and family farm records are up compared to 2020.
Changes Between 2012 and Earlier Years
Beginning in 2012, two major changes affected how ARMS data are collected.
- ARMS was an all-mail survey in 2012–14, though most surveys were eventually completed through follow-up in person or over the phone.
- The all-mail "core" version of ARMS Phase III, which had been introduced in 2003, was discontinued.
Together, these survey design changes make farm household statistics from 2012 onward difficult to compare with earlier surveys. These changes can also affect the precision of estimates.
The total number of farm and farm household records is the lowest since 2002, however, the coefficient of variation (which measures the size of the standard error relative to the mean) remained is consistent with previous years. The coefficient of variation for total household income has ranged from a low of 1.9 in 2010 to as high as 5.6 in 2019; the variation in mean off-farm income moved similarly, at 1.6 in 2010 and 6.8 in 2019. The coefficient of variation of the farm income component of household income was generally higher, with a low of 3.8 in 2014 and a high of 18.8 in 2009, consistent with greater riskiness and variation overall in farm sector income. See more statistics on the ARMS from recent years.