Study Reveals Farm Household Dependence on Off-farm Income

According to a study commissioned by CoBank and conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri, 82% of U.S. farm household income now comes from off-farm sources. Most farmers cited reliable income as the top reason for off-farm employment, as one-half of farm households have negative farm income in a typical year. Health and retirement benefits were also cited as keys reasons for off-farm jobs within farm households. Off-farm jobs are especially critical for young and beginning farmers as they build their businesses. Among the study’s key findings is that rural communities have increasingly diverse economies, and success within a rural community’s agricultural sector is largely dependent on other sectors of the regional economy at large.