Slight Decline Is Forecast for Median Farm Household Income in 2014
Median total farm household income is forecast to decrease slightly in 2014, to $70,992, down from $71,504 forecast for 2013. Given the broad USDA definition of a farm, many farms are not profitable even in the best farm income years. Median farm household income continues to be negative when calculated for all farm households in the 2014 forecast. The median farm income of -$1,626 is down slightly from the 2013 forecast of -$1,140. Most farm households earn all of their income from off-farm sources—median off-farm income is projected to increase by 6.4 percent in 2013 to $62,500 and 3.7 percent in 2014 to $64,840. (Note: Because they are based on unique distributions, median total income will generally not equal the sum of median off-farm and median farm income.) See more financial statistics for farm operator households.
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Differences between 2012 estimates and estimates from prior years reflect improved sample coverage (particularly among very small farms) and changes in survey methodology and implementation associated with the 2012 Agricultural Resource Management Survey, in addition to changes in the economic situation of farm households. One such change in survey methodology is the use of an expanded range of value codes to solicit off-farm income information, allowing farm households to report much higher incomes. These survey design changes make comparisons between farm household statistics calculated using 2012 survey data with those from earlier surveys difficult to interpret. More information is available in the Background section of the Farm Household Wealth and Characteristics data product.
Estimates from the 2012 ARMS are preliminary and are expected to change when new weights, based on the 2012 Census of Agriculture, are released by the National Agricultural Statistics Service.