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  • 2014 Farm Act Shifts Crop Commodity Programs Away From Fixed Payments and Expands Program Choices

    Amber Waves, July 07, 2014

    The new Farm Act continues a shift toward closer links between commodity programs and Federal crop insurance, involving complex trade-offs for producers. Read about it in the July issue of Amber Waves magazine.

  • Agricultural Income and Finance Outlook, 2009 Edition

    AIS-88, December 22, 2009

    All three measures of U.S. farm income are projected to decline in 2009-net farm income is projected to decline by 34.5 percent, net cash income by 28.4 percent, and net value added by 20 percent. Considerable uncertainty surrounds the forecasts of farm assets, debt, and equity in 2009, given the volatility of commodity, energy/input, and financial markets. The overall level of farm-business equity capital is expected to fall in 2009, as farm-sector asset values decline by 3.5 percent. Farm debt is expected to remain steady at $239 billion in 2009. Farm financial ratios monitoring liquidity, efficiency, solvency, and profitability show that the sector's financial performance in 2008-09, while slightly worse than in 2007, is quite favorable overall when compared to the 1980s and 1990s. Average net cash income for farm businesses (intermediate and commercial operations, including non-family farms) is projected to be $61,578 in 2009. This would be 10.6 percent below the 2008 estimate of $68,876. The projected change in income prospects for farm businesses will not affect all farm operations in the same manner or to the same degree. In 2009, the largest declines in farm-business income are forecast for livestock farms, particularly dairy. Farm-operator household income is forecast to be $76,065, down 3.5 percent from 2008. Household earnings from off-farm sources are projected to be similar to 2008.

  • Agricultural Income and Finance Outlook, 2010 Edition

    AIS-90, December 15, 2010

    Net farm income is forecast at $81.6 billion in 2010, up 31 percent from 2009 and 26 percent higher than the 10-year average of $64.8 billion for 2000 to 2009. Net cash income at $92.5 billion would be a nominal record, 2.3 percent above the prior record attained in 2008. Net value added is expected to increase by almost $20 billion in 2010 to $132.0 billion. Production expenses are forecast to rise moderately, reversing the significant declines seen in 2009. However, nominal total production expenses in 2010 and 2009 still constitute the second- and third-highest totals ever. Farm business equity (assets minus debt) is expected to rise nearly 4 percent, largely due to an expected 3-percent increase in the value of farm business real estate and a 2-percent decline in farm business debt. The farm business sector's debt-to-asset ratio is expected to decline to 11.3 percent and the debt-to-equity ratio is expected to decline to 12.8 percent in 2010, indicating that the farm sector's solvency position remains strong. Average net cash income for farm businesses is expected to increase throughout much of the country in 2010. The expected strong recovery in dairy, hog, and cattle receipts will result in much higher average net cash incomes for farm businesses in the Northern Crescent, Basin and Range, and Prairie Gateway. In the Northern Crescent, where dairy is a prominent commodity, average net cash income for farm businesses is forecast to increase by over 58 percent. Incomes are expected to be almost 50 percent higher in 2010 for farm businesses in the Basin and Range region where cattle are an important commodity, a region that showed the Average farm household income of principal farm operators-from farm and off-farm sources-is forecast to be $83,194 in 2010, up 7.8 percent from 2009. This contrasts with the change for the 2008 to 2009 period, when average farm household income declined by 3.3 percent.

  • Agricultural Income and Finance Outlook, 2011 Edition

    AIS-91, December 14, 2011

    Net farm income is forecast at $100.9 billion in 2011, up 28 percent from 2010 and 50 percent higher than the 10-year average of $67.4 billion for 2001-2010. Net cash income at $109.8 billion would be a nominal record, 19 percent above the prior record attained in 2010. Net value added is expected to increase by almost $24 billion in 2011 to $153.7 billion. Production expenses are forecast to jump substantially in 2011 to a record nominal high exceeding $300 billion. Prices paid indexes drive the forecast increase. Inflation-adjusted 2011 production expenses will exceed the previous peak reached in 1979. The values of farm business sector assets and equity (assets minus debt) are forecast to rise in 2011, while farm debt is forecast to decline from 2010 levels. Farm sector asset values are expected to rise by 6.8 percent in 2011 as the values of land and farm buildings, crop inventories, purchased inputs, machinery and equipment and financial assets are all expected to rise in 2011. Farm sector debt is expected to fall from about $247 billion in 2010 to about $243 billion in 2011. The decline in real estate debt is expected to be about $4 billion (-3.0 percent). The farm business sector's debt-to-asset ratio is expected to decline to 10.4 percent and debt-to-equity is expected to decline to 11.6 percent in 2011, indicating that the farm sector's solvency position remains strong. Average net cash income for farm businesses is expected to increase throughout most of the country in 2011, although income growth is not as high as experienced in 2010. High commodity prices for both crops and livestock are driving these increases, despite increasing expenses in all categories other than labor. Except for poultry, high prices in 2011 have helped the livestock sector to continue the strong performance of 2010 despite an environment of increasing feed expenses. Driven by the gains in most crop and livestock farms, all regions other than the Southern Seaboard are expected to experience at least a 7-percent improvement in average net cash income over 2010. Median farm household income increased by 3.7 percent in 2010 to $54,162 and is forecast to be higher in 2011. Bolstered by higher farm asset values, the balance sheet of farm households improved in 2010, with median net worth increasing by 6.5 percent to $576,745.

  • Agricultural-Food Policy Review: Commodity Program Perspectives

    AER-530, July 01, 1985

    This review prepared for 1985 farm legislation provides an historical overview of U.S. farm policies, an evaluation of the performance of current commodity programs, a description of the general economic setting in which the legislation will operate, and a discussion of possible alternative policy tools and concepts. Particular focus is given to the purpose of commodity programs and an economic assessment of their performance.

  • Agriculture Economy Improves in 2003

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2003

    The financial condition of U.S. farmers and other agricultural stakeholders is expected to improve in 2003. Net farm income, a measure of the sector's profitability, is forecast to be up $17 billion (49 percent) from the $35.6 billion earned in 2002 and about 10 percent above the 10-year average.

  • America's Diverse Family Farms, 2007 Edition

    EIB-26, June 01, 2007

    American farms encompass a wide range of sizes, ownership structures, and business types, but most farms are still family farms. Family farms account for 98 percent of farms and 85 percent of production. Although most farms are small and own most of the farmland, production has shifted to very large farms. Farms with sales of $1 million or more make up less than 2 percent of all farms, but they account for 48 percent of farm product sales. Most of these million-dollar farms are family farms. Because small-farm households rely on off-farm work for most of their income, general economic policies, such as tax or economic development policy, can be as important to them as traditional farm policy.

  • America's Diverse Family Farms, 2016 Edition

    EIB-164, December 06, 2016

    Family farms comprise 99 percent of U.S. farms, accounting for 89 percent of production. Small farms make up 90 percent of farms, operating nearly half of farmland. Still, large family farms accounted for 42 percent of production in 2015.

  • America's Diverse Family Farms: 2014 Edition

    EIB-133, December 22, 2014

    Farming is still an industry of family businesses. Ninety-seven percent of farms are family farms, and they account for 85 percent of farm production. Small farms make up 90 percent of the farm count and operate half of the Nation's farmland. Most farm production, however, occurs on midsize and large-scale family farms.

  • America's Diverse Family Farms: 2015 Edition

    EIB-146, December 08, 2015

    Most U.S. farms (99 percent) are family operations. Small family farms make up 90 percent of the U.S. farm count but produce 22 percent of farm output. Midsize and large-scale farms (9 percent of farms) produce 68 percent of farm output.

  • America's Diverse Family Farms: Structure and Finances

    EIB-13, May 15, 2006

    American farms vary widely in size and other characteristics, but farming is still an industry of family businesses. Ninety-eight percent of farms are family farms, and they account for 86 percent of farm production. Very small farms are growing in number, and small family farms continue to own most farmland. But production is shifting toward very large family farms. Because small-farm households receive most of their income from off-farm work, general economic policies-such as tax policy or economic development policy-can be as important to them as traditional farm policy.

  • America’s Diverse Family Farms: 2017 Edition

    EIB-185, December 15, 2017

    99% of U.S. farms are family farms, accounting for 90% of production. Small family farms make up 90% of all farms and operate over half of farmland. Still, large family farms accounted for the largest share of farm production, 45%, in 2016.

  • Are Bankruptcies Behind the Drop in Farm Numbers?

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2004

    The number of U.S. farms declined by two-thirds between 1935 and 2002. While this decline is commonly associated with high rates of farm bankruptcy, a new study finds the link between dwindling farm numbers and farm bankruptcies to be weak.

  • Assessing Farm Household Well-Being--Beyond Farmers and Farm Income

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2004

    ERS researchers use data from the USDA and the Federal Reserve to compare farm households and nonfarm households in terms of income and wealth. While farm income is traditionally used as a measure of farm household well-being, the analysis shows that other factors, such as wealth and off-farm income, are important determinants of well-being.

  • Characteristics and Production Costs of U.S. Corn Farms, Including Organic, 2010

    EIB-128, September 17, 2014

    In 2010, the average operating and ownership costs per bushel varied between low- and high-cost corn producers but not among producers with different enterprise sizes. Organic production returns exceeded those for conventional production.

  • Composite Measure of Economic Well-Being

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2005

    ERS has developed a composite measure of economic well-being (CWB) that incorporates the income received from all sources by the farm household with an annuity based on the amount of marketable wealth held by the household. The richness of data collected through USDA's Agricultural Resource Management Survey in recent years allows for a more comprehensive and robust measure of economic well-being.

  • Contracts, Markets, and Prices: Organizing the Production and Use of Agricultural Commodities

    AER-837, November 01, 2004

    Demand for specific product attributes is making contracts the choice over traditional spot markets for many livestock commodities and some major crops-e.g., sugar beets, fruit, tomatoes.

  • Data Feature

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2004

    The Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) is USDA's primary vehicle for collecting information on agricultural resource use, production practices, farm costs and returns, farm financial conditions, and the economic well-being of America's farm households. Sponsored jointly by ERS and USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), ARMS was initiated in 1996 as an effort to consolidate and integrate the former USDA cropping practice, chemical use, and farm costs and returns surveys (which date back several decades).

  • Debt Landscape for U.S. Farms Has Shifted

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2009

    The capital structure of U.S. farms has changed over the last two decades. Fewer farms have outstanding debts than in the past, but debt carried is concentrated among fewer and larger farms.

  • Debt Use by U.S. Farm Businesses, 1992-2011

    EIB-122, April 08, 2014

    While farm business debt use varies widely, large farms, farms with younger operators, and dairy and poultry farms have the highest levels of debt use.