The median farm household income is forecasted to average $76,191 in 2019. That’s an improvement of 5.1 percent from 2018 levels and 3.2 percent better when adjusted for inflation. It also marks the first increase in median income since 2015.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) continually tracks median farm household incomes throughout the year. These reports not only show the average change in median farm incomes, they also track the contribution of farm income versus income supplied by off-farm sources.
The graph below shows the discrepancy between the two types of income.
While farm contributions to median household income have averaged minus $1,440 in 2019, that’s actually an improvement from 2018 levels of minus $1,735. In fact, many recent years have witnessed more than half of farm households recording negative farm incomes.
On the flip side, median off-farm incomes in 2019 averaged $67,281. That’s 2.2 percent better than 2018’s $65,841. You’ll notice that in these averages, median on-farm income and median off-farm income do not add up to the average household income for the year. That is because farm and off-farm income are not distributed identically for every operation.
While dairy is just a segment of these highlighted farms, these numbers starkly reflect the struggle of rural farming families and communities. There is certainly room for improvement.