2022 Farm Sector Income Forecast

Suggested citation for linking to this discussion:

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Farm Sector Income & Finances: Farm Sector Income Forecast, September 1, 2022.

Net farm income, a broad measure of profits, is forecast to increase by $7.3 billion (5.2 percent) from 2021 to $147.7 billion in calendar year 2022. This expected increase follows an increase of $45.9 billion (48.5 percent) in 2021 from 2020. Net cash farm income is forecast to increase by $22.1 billion (15.1 percent) to $168.5 billion in 2022, after an increase of $29.6 billion (25.4 percent) in 2021. In inflation-adjusted dollars, 2022 net farm income is forecast to decrease by $0.9 billion (0.6 percent); net cash farm income is forecast to increase by $13.5 billion (8.7 percent) compared with the previous year. If realized, net farm income and net cash farm income in 2022 would remain above their 2002–21 average (in real terms).  

See a summary of the forecasts in the table U.S. farm sector financial indicators, 2015-22F, or see all data tables on farm income and wealth statistics.

Note: In the text below, year-to-year changes in the major aggregate components of farm income are discussed only in nominal dollars unless the direction of the change is reversed when looking at the component in inflation-adjusted dollars.

Summary Findings

  • Overall, farm cash receipts are forecast to increase by $91.7 billion (21.2 percent) to $525.3 billion in 2022 in nominal dollars. Total crop receipts are forecast to increase by $36.4 billion (15.3 percent) from 2021 levels to $274.2 billion. Receipts for soybeans are forecast to increase by $14.9 billion (30.6 percent), corn by $11.9 billion (16.7 percent), and wheat by $4.0 billion (33.7 percent) in 2022, accounting for most of the forecasted growth in crop cash receipts. Total animal/animal product receipts are expected to increase by $55.3 billion (28.3 percent) to $251.1 billion, following increases in receipts for all commodity categories.
  • Direct Government farm payments are forecast at $13.0 billion in 2022, a $12.8 billion (49.7 percent) decrease from 2021 levels. Direct Government farm payments include Federal farm program payments paid directly to farmers and ranchers but exclude U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) loans and insurance indemnity payments made by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation. Much of this decline is because of lower supplemental and ad hoc disaster assistance to farmers and ranchers related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic compared with 2021.
  • Total production expenses, including those associated with operator dwellings, are forecast to increase by $66.2 billion (17.8 percent) in 2022 to $437.3 billion. All categories of expenses are forecast to be higher in 2022 in nominal terms, with feed and fertilizer-lime-soil conditioner purchases expected to see the largest dollar increases.
  • Farm sector equity is expected to increase by 10.4 percent in 2022 to $3.34 trillion in nominal terms. Farm sector assets are forecast to increase 9.7 percent (nominal) in 2022 to $3.84 trillion following expected increases in the value of farm real estate assets. Farm sector debt is forecast to increase 4.6 percent in 2022 to $496.0 billion in nominal terms but fall by 1.2 percent when adjusted for inflation. Debt-to-asset levels for the sector are forecast to improve from 13.56 percent in 2021 to 12.93 percent in 2022. Working capital is forecast to fall by 2.6 percent in 2022.

Growth in Crop Receipts Forecast for 2022

Crop cash receipts are forecast at $274.2 billion in calendar year 2022, an increase of $36.4 billion (15.3 percent) from 2021 in nominal terms. Combined receipts for corn, soybeans, and wheat are forecast to increase by $30.7 billion, accounting for most of the net increase, and receipts are expected to fall for potatoes and fruits and nuts.

Soybean receipts in 2022 are expected to increase by $14.9 billion (30.6 percent), because of forecasted growth in both prices and quantities sold. Similarly, corn receipts are forecast to increase by $11.9 billion (16.7 percent) in 2022, caused by higher expected prices and quantities. Wheat receipts are forecast to increase by $4.0 billion (33.7 percent), as a large gain in prices will overshadow a negative quantity effect. Receipts for hay are also projected to increase by $1.6 billion (19.2 percent).

Vegetable and melon cash receipts are expected to rise by $1.6 billion (8.8 percent) in 2022 because prices are forecast to increase. This total includes, however, a forecasted drop of $0.6 billion in potato receipts. Cash receipts for fruits and nuts are expected to fall by $0.9 billion (3.0 percent) in 2022. Growth of $0.7 billion (63.2 percent) in sugarbeet receipts is also forecast for 2022.

See data on value of crop production (in the value added table) and crop cash receipts.

Animal/Animal Product Receipts Forecast to Increase in 2022

Total animal/animal product cash receipts are expected to increase by $55.3 billion (28.3 percent in nominal terms) to $251.1 billion in calendar year 2022. Growth in receipts is forecast for all major animal/animal products, with the largest percentage increases expected for broilers, milk, and chicken eggs.

Milk receipts are expected to increase by $15.2 billion (36.4 percent) in 2022, mainly due to higher forecasted prices. Cash receipts from cattle and calves are expected to increase by $11.7 billion (16.3 percent), also largely due to expectations for higher prices. Positive price effects are projected to outweigh lower quantities for hog receipts, resulting in an increase of $2.5 billion (8.9 percent) in 2022.

Broiler receipts are expected to increase by $17.8 billion (56.6 percent) in 2022, mostly due to a higher price forecast. Despite slightly lower quantities relative to 2021, higher prices should also drive receipts for turkeys $1.2 billion (19.6 percent) higher during the year. Similarly, cash receipts for chicken eggs are expected to grow by $6.6 billion (76.3 percent) in 2022, as large forecasted gains in prices are likely to outweigh a negative quantity effect.

See data on value of animal/product production (in the value added table) and animal/product cash receipts.

Increasing Prices Forecast to Drive Growth in Cash Receipts in 2022

To better understand the factors underlying the forecast change in annual receipts from 2021 to 2022, we decompose the change into two separate effects: (1) a "price effect" where we project the change in cash receipts associated with holding the quantity sold constant at 2021 levels and allowing prices to change to forecast 2022 levels; and (2) a "quantity effect" where prices are held constant from 2021 and quantities change to forecast 2022 levels. In 2022, increasing prices and quantities sold are expected to have positive effects on cash receipts. Overall, cash receipts are forecast to increase by $91.7 billion in 2022, with an estimated positive price effect of $80.4 billion, and a projected positive quantity effect of $9.3 billion. In addition, an upward shift of $2.0 billion is from forecasts for commodities whose price and quantity effects cannot be separately determined. Price effects on cash receipts are positive for both crop and livestock commodities, but quantity effects are only forecast to be positive for crop commodities.

Direct Government Farm Payments Forecast to Decrease in 2022

Direct Government farm program payments are those made by the Federal Government to farmers and ranchers with no intermediaries. Typically, most direct payments to farmers and ranchers are administered by USDA under the Farm Bill or other authorities. Direct payments can also be from ad hoc and supplemental programs authorized by Congress. Government payments do not include Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) indemnity payments (listed as a separate component of farm income) and USDA loans (listed as a liability in the farm sector’s balance sheet). After reaching a record high of $45.5 billion in calendar year 2020, direct Government farm program payments are estimated to have decreased to $25.8 billion in 2021. They are forecast to decrease further to $13.0 billion in 2022. The overall decrease in 2021 and 2022 direct Government payments reflect lower anticipated payments from supplemental and ad hoc disaster assistance, including lower COVID-19 assistance.

  • Supplemental and ad hoc disaster assistance payments in 2022 are forecast at $8.6 billion, a decrease of $10.3 billion or 54.4 percent from 2021, primarily because of lower total payments from COVID-19-related assistance programs.
    • USDA pandemic assistance for producers, including the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), provides relief to producers whose operations are directly affected by COVID-19. Payments in calendar year 2022 from these USDA programs are forecast at $0.8 billion compared with $23.5 billion and $7.5 billion in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
    • Non-USDA pandemic assistance—payments from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP),administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA)—ended on May 31, 2021, and no payments are expected in 2022. Non-USDA pandemic assistance is estimated at $8.5 billion for 2021, based on July 4, 2022 update from SBA on PPP loan forgiveness. The PPP payments were designed to help small businesses keep their workers on the payroll. Although administered as a loan, the loans will be forgiven if the program requirements are met. We treat forgiven loans as a direct payment to farm operations.
    • Other supplemental and ad hoc disaster assistance, which includes farm bill designated disaster programs, are forecast at $7.8 billion in 2022, an increase of $4.9 billion from $2.9 billion in 2021, largely because of the recently passed Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act that created the Emergency Relief Program (ERP) and Emergency Livestock Relief Program (ELRP).
  • Conservation payments from the financial assistance programs of USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are expected to be $4.2 billion in 2022, up $635 million or 18.0 percent from 2021. The increase in conservation payments is due to marginal increase in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) enrolled acres and an increase in payments from NRCS programs.
  • The Dairy Margin Coverage Program (DMC) is forecast to make no payments in 2022 from the 2022 DMC program. The negative net payments forecast for the year reflects premiums and administrative fees producers paid to enroll in the program. Although some payments were triggered in November 2021, these were not enough to offset participant payment amounts.
  • Farm bill commodity payments under the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs are forecast to decline by $2.0 billion, or 90.3 percent, in 2022 to $0.2 billion. ARC payments are expected to be $63.4 million in 2022, a decrease of $54.1 million or 46 percent from 2021 levels. PLC payments in 2022 are expected be $151 million, a decrease of $1.9 billion, or 92.8 percent, from 2021 levels. ARC payments are expected to decrease in 2022 because of higher commodity prices for all covered commodities in 2021 compared with 2020 levels, particularly for corn and soybeans. PLC payments are also expected to decrease in 2022 because of higher prices for all covered commodities in 2021 compared with 2020.

See data table on government payments

Production Expenses Forecast to Increase in 2022

Farm sector production expenses—including expenses associated with operator dwellings—are forecast to increase by $66.2 billion (17.8 percent) to reach $437.3 billion in calendar year 2022. This would represent the largest year-to-year dollar increase on record. This spike is only partially due to the economy-wide increase in prices. When adjusted for inflation, production expenses are forecast to increase by 11.3 percent from 2021 to 2022 yet remain below the record-high levels of 2012–14. 

See data tables on production expenses

Nearly all expense categories are forecast to rise in 2022 compared with the previous year, with the most significant increases in nominal terms for the following categories:

  • Fertilizer-lime-soil conditioner expenses are forecast to increase by $15.4 billion (52.3 percent) to $45.0 billion in 2022.
  • Feed expenses, the largest single expense category, are forecast to increase in 2022 by $9.7 billion (14.9 percent), to $75.0 billion because of higher prices for feed commodities.
  • Interest expenses (including operator dwellings) are also forecast to increase in 2022 by $7.5 billion (39.6 percent) to $26.5 billion.