Q: What are the 2024 release dates for the farm income data?

The release dates for data on farm income and wealth statistics, including the farm income forecasts, are February 7, September 5, and December 3 in 2024.

Q: Does the farm income forecast include Inflation Reduction Act assistance for distressed borrowers?

Yes. The assistance for distressed borrowers expected to be paid out in calendar years 2022 and 2023 is treated as a direct Government payment and included in the calculation of net farm income. In the Government payments by program report, the payments are included under "Other supplemental and ad hoc disaster assistance." Section 22006 of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provided funding for USDA to provide relief for distressed borrowers with certain Farm Service Agency (FSA) direct and guaranteed loans and to expedite assistance for those whose agricultural operations are at financial risk. For more information on the assistance, see the Inflation Reduction Act Section 22006 fact sheet and Inflation Reduction Act Assistance for Distressed Borrowers

Q: Are the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic reflected in the farm sector income and farm household income estimates and forecasts?

The estimates of 2020, 2021, and 2022 farm income and the 2023 and 2024 forecasts include direct financial assistance for producers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, based on administrative data from the agencies that issue the payments. The 2020, 2021, and 2022 estimates of farm household income incorporate farm and off-farm income as reported in the 2020, 2021, and 2022 Agricultural Resource Management Survey.

Further discussion of the economic implications of COVID-19 for farms and farm households is found in the USDA, ERS topic page on Farms and Farm Households During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Q: What is farm-related income?

Farm-related income is income earned by farming operations from sources other than the production of agricultural commodities (i.e. crop and livestock output) using farm assets or production inputs. Components of farm-related income include:

  • income from forest products sales;
  • gross imputed rental value of farm dwellings;
  • machine hire and custom work income; and
  • other farm income such as commodity insurance indemnities and net cash rent received by operator landlords. It also includes other sources of income not captured elsewhere, for example, cooperative patronage and dividends, State and local Government payments. Income from grazing, recreational activities (such as hunting, fishing, and tourism), and from royalties or leases associated with energy production are also examples of other sources of farm-related income.

Q: What additional information is included in each successive release?

The data on the U.S. farm sector income are published periodically by the USDA, Economic Research Service (USDA, ERS) available in U.S. and State-level farm income and wealth statistics. The farm income data for a particular calendar year are initially published as a forecast and the forecast is updated 3 times before it is converted to an estimate (about 19 months after the initial forecast). The farm income can vary from one release to the next because of changes in the information set available to the USDA, ERS Farm Income Team. Notably, as the year progresses, each new release incorporates incrementally more observed information gathered through surveys and other means into the forecast and estimation models.

Forecasts at the beginning of the year have very little observed information for the calendar year under study, relying mostly on historical data and trends. Later forecasts are based on a growing share of observed data. The first forecast is made before planting intentions are known—let alone production outcomes (which vary with weather and other factors) and resulting prices (which adjust to shifts in both domestic and global production and demand). Farmers also respond to shifts in expected income by varying their input purchases, debt, inventories, and participation in Government programs. These outcomes and decisions are revealed over the course of the production year and are reflected in data that may lag those decisions by up to a year. Each forecast takes advantage of new information as it becomes available, and release dates are largely timed accordingly.

For example:

  • The first forecast of calendar-year 2017 income was released in February 2017. As little information was available on 2017 production, it relied on 2017 production and price projections for crop and animal/animal products. The crop cash receipts forecasts also incorporated information on 2016 production that would be sold in 2017.
  • The second 2017 forecast, in August 2017, included the first survey-based information from USDA on crop production for the crop marketing year. This information on domestic crop production was supplemented by additional animal/animal product domestic production and use, as well as international production, consumption, and trade that allowed for an improved price forecast.
  • The November 2017 release incorporated newly available price data as well as updates to current-year harvest, sales, and inventory information.
  • The fourth forecast of 2017 farm income, released in February 2018, included additional 2017 monthly price information, as well as marketing pattern data that enabled a more complete picture of whether crop sales occurred in one calendar year or another.
  • The 2017 calendar-year forecast process culminated with the fifth release in August 2018, when NASS estimates of State/U.S. production and expense data gathered through the 2017 Agricultural Resource Management Survey became available. In August 2018, the 2017 farm income data were labeled as "estimates."
  • USDA, ERS releases data on farm sector income and wealth three times a year, and therefore, 2017 calendar-year estimates were published again in November 2018, as well as in the three 2019 releases and beyond. In general, while the estimates may be revised past the first five releases, these revisions are small.

The staggered incorporation of additional data that become available throughout the year means that individual components of the farm income accounts are subject to varying degrees of uncertainty in any given forecast. For instance, prices change throughout the year in response to international supply and demand conditions, production estimates change as weather conditions become known, and stocks data change as producers decide whether to store or market their production. The forecast of crop inventory adjustment is a residual of measures, taken at different points in the year, of total supply (production and beginning-of-year stocks) and use (domestic and exports). Government farm program payments—which are a function of prices, production, eligibility rules, and ad hoc disaster legislation—are also hard to predict, and forecasts improve as more data become available.

Q: What is the typical forecast error associated with a release?

USDA, ERS releases data on farm sector income and wealth three times a year, with each release including forecasts for the current calendar year, as well as forecasts or estimates for the past years (see U.S. and State-level farm income and wealth statistics).

Farm sector income and its components for any given calendar year is forecasted four times before the data are labeled an "estimate." The first forecast is released in early February of the year being projected, the second in late August/early September, and the third in late November/early December. The fourth forecast is released in early February of the following year. About 7 months later, with the late August/early September release, the forecast is converted into an estimate when most administrative and survey-based data become available. It takes approximately 19 months to release the first estimate for any calendar year, from the first forecast in February to the first estimate in August/September of the next year.

A historical review of forecasts for 2003–22 farm sector income indicates how the 4 successive forecasts compare with the first published estimate, on average, over the 19-month forecasting period. The average absolute percentage difference (AAPD) indicates how the interim forecasts differ from the first published estimate in terms of the forecast’s percentage deviation. The percentage deviation is measured in absolute terms (only the magnitude of the forecast’s percentage deviation is considered), and not if it was higher or lower than the final estimate. For example, the first net cash farm income forecast differed from the first published estimate by an average of 14.8 percent. The arrival of new data throughout a given year generally leads to an improvement in forecast error across the 19-month period. By the fourth forecast, the AAPD for net cash farm income falls to 6.8 percent on average.

The value of ERS forecasts is additionally evident by comparing the ERS forecast AAPDs to a naïve forecast AAPD. The naïve approach uses the previous year’s first published estimate as the forecast value for the current year.

Across 2003–22, naïve forecasts of net cash farm income had an average AAPD of 16.1 percent and the naïve forecast for net farm income had an AAPD of 21.7 percent relative to the first published estimate. In other words, the naïve forecasts underperformed the ERS forecasts at every release.

Average absolute percentage difference (AAPD), calendar years 2003–22
Forecast/estimate year Forecast release (1): February Forecast release (2): Aug./Sept. Forecast release (3): Nov./Dec Forecast release (4): February Naïve forecast
Net cash farm income 14.8 6.2 7.1 6.8 16.1
Net farm income 16.9 12.3 9.9 11.0 21.7
Source: USDA, Economic Research Service calculations using "Historical Farm Income and Wealth Statistics Releases, February 1977 to Most Recent Vintage," Farm Income and Wealth Statistics. Data as of August 31, 2023.

The direction of change (DOC) analysis indicates, in percentage terms, how often the forecasts have correctly predicted the direction of year-to-year change in the U.S. farm sector income. For example, if the forecast for the current year income is higher than the estimate for the last year income, then DOC is labeled as "increasing." To assess the DOC forecast accuracy, the DOC is compared between the forecasts and the current year’s first published estimate. For the 20-year period from 2003 to 2022, the first net cash farm income forecast correctly predicted the DOC relative to the previous year 70 percent of the time. Release 4 correctly predicted the DOC 95 percent of the time. The accuracy of the DOC predictions for net farm income are similar to those observed for the net cash farm income.

Directional accuracy (percentage), calendar years 2003–22
Forecast/estimate year Forecast release (1): February Forecast release (2): Aug./Sept. Forecast release (3): Nov./Dec Forecast release (4): February
Net cash farm income 70 95 90 95
Net farm income 75 89 95 95
Source: USDA, Economic Research Service calculations using "Historical Farm Income and Wealth Statistics Releases, February 1977 to Most Recent Vintage," Farm Income and Wealth Statistics. Data as of August 31, 2023.

Q: How did the release of the 2017 Census of Agriculture impact the Farm Income and Wealth Statistics data product?

For the August 30, 2019, release, data from the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), 2017 Census of Agriculture were incorporated in many ways to improve USDA, ERS estimates at the State and national levels:

  • The 2017 Census data complemented the 2012 Census of Agriculture data used in a USDA, ERS model to estimate, where needed, State-level cash receipts from the multi-State aggregates reported by NASS;
  • 2017 data supplemented 2012 data used to estimate farm-related income and production expense data for States where Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) data provides insufficient coverage. These adjustments to the Farm Income and Wealth Statistics data product in response to 2017 Census of Agriculture data resulted in revised State totals back to 2013 but do not affect national aggregates; and
  • Information contained on farm sales class and other structural data in the 2017 Census of Agriculture were used to revise the 2017 ARMS survey data underlying the Farm Income and Wealth Statistics.

Q: How does USDA, ERS define the farm resource regions used in the farm business income summary findings?

Farm resource regions are defined using farm production regions, land resource regions, crop reporting districts, and farm characteristics. The regions are designated at the county level and therefore do not generally follow State boundaries. See the ERS report, Farm Resource Regions (AIB-760, August 2000) and USDA ERS - Agricultural Income and Finance Situation and Outlook: 2021 Edition (EIB-228, November 2021, p. 30, text box "USDA, ERS Farm Resource Regions") for more information, or download an Excel table to link counties to the appropriate ERS Resource Region.

Q: Does USDA, ERS produce county-level data on farm sector income?

No, State-level are the most geographically disaggregated estimates produced by ERS. However, some published U.S. Government data on county-level farm income are available from other sources, although definitions can vary across data sources. The census of agriculture is conducted every 5 years by USDA and provides detailed data on the market value of agricultural products sold, farm production expenses, Government payments, and income from farm-related sources. The census of agriculture data also provide a measure of net cash farm income. The data are available through the NASS QuickStats database and from Census publications. The U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis publishes annual data on county-level net farm income accruing to proprietorship farms, corporations, and hired farm labor as part of their Personal Income by County, Metro, and Other Areas statistics. Their Farm Income and Expense (CA45) tables additionally provide annual estimates of cash receipts from farm production, other farm income, production expenses, and the value of inventory change.

Q: Does USDA, ERS produce State-level forecasts?

Farm sector income and wealth are forecast only at the national level. The first State-level estimates for a given year are released in August/September of the following year. ERS does forecast average net cash income by ERS resource region as well as by farm sales class, farm typology, and commodity specialization. See Farm-level average net cash income by farm typology and sales class and Farm business average net cash income by commodity specialization and region tables in Data Files: U.S. and State-Level Farm Income and Wealth Statistics.

Q: Does USDA, ERS estimate cash receipts or farm income for Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories?

No, ERS only estimates cash receipts and farm income for the 50 States and does not separately estimate cash receipts or farm income for U.S. territories, nor do we include them in national totals.

Q: Do the USDA, ERS farm income and wealth forecasts reflect changes in trade practices?

Trade actions expected to affect the production, sale, or price of farm commodities in the upcoming year are reflected in the USDA, ERS farm income and wealth forecasts. In deriving forecasts of the value of animal/animal product and crop production, USDA, ERS uses commodity production and price forecasts from the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report published by the USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board. For commodities not published in the WASDE reports, forecasts from USDA, ERS subject matter experts are used. These forecasts consider agriculture-related trade actions that are in place or with start dates formally announced at the time of the update.

Q: What is included in the "Miscellaneous crops" and "All other animals and products" categories in the cash receipts tables?

The exact lists of commodities are not available because the source data from USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is confidential in order to avoid disclosure of individual operations. However, many of the types of commodities included in the composite categories can be found in the census of agriculture estimates; comparing these census tables with the ERS cash receipt tables can provide some additional insight. For a given State, commodities included in the Census of Agriculture, but not explicitly listed by ERS, are most likely contained in the ERS composite groupings. Still, the resulting list of commodities will not be definitive because the Census of Agriculture tables include some aggregation as well. Beginning in 2021, any cash receipts for industrial hemp are included in the 'Miscellaneous crops' category.

Q: What does USDA, ERS use for their commodity price forecasts?

Forecast price assumptions for eight commodities (wheat, corn, sorghum, barley, oats, rice, soybeans, and upland cotton) are based on average crop marketing-year commodity prices from the most recent World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report by the USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board. However, because not all commodities have a price forecast in WASDE, USDA, ERS relies on situation and outlook reports and subject matter experts to develop commodity price forecasts. See "Method for Forecasting Cash Receipts" in General Documentation for further information.

Q: What is the difference between net cash and net farm income?

Net cash farm income includes only cash receipts and expenses; net farm income is net cash income plus the value of home consumption, changes in inventories, capital replacement, and implicit rent and expenses related to the farm operator's dwelling that are not reflected in cash transactions during the current year. As such, net cash farm income is generally less variable than net farm income.

Since only cash receipts and expenses are included, farmers can manage the timing of crop and livestock sales and of input purchases to reduce the variability in their net cash income. Farmers can hold crops from large harvests to sell in the coming year when output may be lower and prices higher. Consequently, net cash farm income can remain high in years when output is average or subpar. However, net cash income cannot be maintained for long without being replenished through production.

Q: What are the major changes in Federal programs under the 2018 Farm Act that affect direct Government payments to farmers?

Crop insurance options and agricultural commodity programs exist much as under the 2014 Farm Act. However, farmers now have greater flexibility to switch enrollment between Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) programs. The Dairy Margin Protection Program is replaced with Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC). All major conservation programs are continued, although some are modified significantly. See Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018: Highlights and Implications for more information.

Q: Are cash receipts reported by USDA, ERS identical to value of production reported by NASS?

The answer to this question depends on the commodity examined. For livestock and for certain crops (for which there is no Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) program, no reductions for onfarm use of commodities, and no lag in calendar years between production and sale), the NASS and ERS estimates will be identical. ERS cash receipt estimates will differ from NASS value of production for commodities where (1) CCC placements occur, (2) crop production is used on the farm (e.g., fed to livestock), and (3) commodities are marketed across more than 1 calendar year.

Q: What does USDA, ERS use to convert nominal to real dollars?

USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) uses the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, Gross Domestic Product Price Index (BEA API series code: A191RG), published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, to convert nominal estimates and forecasts to a real or inflation-adjusted, constant-dollar series. When the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) data are unavailable, a forecast of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) price index from Oxford Economics is used. Occasionally, the price index may be revised in its entirety, resulting in additional changes in the inflation-adjusted farm income and wealth estimates. Note that the base year is set to the current calendar year when adjusting the data. So, for the current year only, nominal and real dollars are equivalent, while estimates for prior years are adjusted for inflation to be comparable with forecasts for the current calendar year. For data released February 7, 2024, USDA, ERS used the Oxford Economics GDP price index forecast for 2023 and 2024 as of January 4, 2024.

Q: Is it possible for me to get a copy of all of the data contained in this release in a single file?

Yes. Please go to the data access page in order to download a comma-separated values (CSV) data file. Historic record data in the CSV contain nominal dollar values; an inflation factor to adjust to current dollars is included on each record.

Q: I would like to view charts and maps of these data, are they available?

Please see our data visualizations associated with the data product, including Charts and Maps About Your State, Charts and Maps of U.S. Farm Sector Balance Sheet Data, and Charts and Maps of U.S. Farm Income Statement Data.