Farm Household Income for 2021F—September 2021 Update

Suggested citation for linking to this discussion:

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Farm Household Well-being: Farm Household Income Forecast, September 2, 2021.

Median Income of Farm Operator Households Estimated to Fall in 2020, and Forecast to Fall Further in 2021

Median total farm household income is estimated to decrease to $80,314 in 2020 and then forecast to fall further in 2021 to $79,909. That is a nominal decrease of 3.4 percent (a 4.5 percent decline after inflation) between 2019 and 2020, and a 0.5 percent nominal decrease (a 4 percent decline after inflation) in 2021.

Farm households typically receive income from both farm and off-farm sources. Median farm income earned by farm households is estimated to decrease in 2020 to -$1,248 from $296 in 2019, and then forecast to decline further to -$1,387 in 2021. The positive median farm income in 2019 was unusual as median farm income earned by farm households was negative each year between 1996 and 2018. Many farm households rely on off-farm income: median off-farm income in 2020 is estimated at $66,779, a decrease of 2.9 percent. This decline is because of lower earned income—income from wages, salary, and nonfarm businesses—that is not fully offset by higher unearned income —income from interest, investments, pension and retirement accounts, unemployment compensation and other public transfers. In 2021, median off-farm income is forecast to rise by 2.5 percent to $68,461. Since farm and off-farm income are not distributed identically for every farm, median total income will generally not equal the sum of median off-farm and median farm income.

See the Farm Household Income and Characteristics data product tables for financial statistics of farm operator households.