Farm Household Income for 2019 and 2020F—September 2020 Update

Median Income of Farm Operator Households Forecast to Rise in 2019 and 2020

Total median farm household income is forecast to increase to $83,111 in 2019 and continue to increase in 2020, reaching $89,674. In percentage terms, that is a nominal increase of 14.7 percent (a 12.6 percent increase after inflation) between 2018 and 2019 and a subsequent rise of 7.9 percent (a 5.9 percent increase after inflation) in 2020. The forecast rises in 2019 and 2020 are notable because they follow a trend from 2015 through 2018 of declining median farm household income.

Farm households typically receive income from both farm and off-farm sources. Median farm income earned by farm households is forecast to increase in 2019 to $296 from -$1,735 in 2018 and is expected to continue to increase to $934 in 2020. Median farm income earned by farm households was negative each year from 1996 to 2018. The increase in median farm income in 2019 and 2020 is largely because of increases in government payments to farm operations. In 2019, the Market Facilitation Program provided financial assistance in response to trade disruptions. In 2020, supplemental and ad hoc disaster assistance programs—such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)—provided financial relief to those affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

As in previous years, many farm households rely on off-farm income. The median off-farm income is forecast to increase each year, up 6.3 percent to $70,000 in 2019 and up 3.1 percent to reach $72,187 in 2020. Like the median farm income forecast, the rise in median off-farm income is primarily because of COVID-19 relief distributed to most U.S. households through the Economic Impact Payments. Because 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.