Financing the Farming Operation



Resources and Updates

Documents & Links


This page was updated on November 16, 2019.

Relevant USDA Reports


The latest USDA data on farm sector income, wealth, debt, and profitability is available on the USDA ERS website, Farm Sector Income and Finances.


Helpful charts and graphs that are illustrative tools for teaching are found under the Highlights From the August 2019 Farm Income Forecast tab.


See also, Selected Charts from Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials, (Oct. 2018). 


The USDA ERS has a new research topic area that "focuses on the economic, social, spatial, temporal, and demographic factors that affect the poverty status of rural residents." It is available at Rural Poverty and Well-Being


Listed below are direct links to some of the reports that are most relevant to finance and credit issues, including related beginning farmer reports.  Note that there has been a steep decline in the number of related reports in 2019.


Many experienced economists employed by USDA ERS have left their employment as a result of employment policies, the decision to relocate the ERS agency from Washington D.C. to Kansas City, and concerns about the stifling of research reports contrary to administration policies. This is a tremendous loss to the nation. 



Productivity Increases With Farm Size in the Heartland Region, USDA, ERS, Amber Waves (Dec. 2, 2018).

An Overview of Beginning Farms and Farmers, USDA, ERS, EB-29 (Sept. 25, 2019). 

Financial Conditions in the U.S. Agricultural Sector: Historical Comparisons, USDA, ERS, EIB-211 (Oct. 21, 2019).

An Overview of Beginning Farms and Farmers, USDA, ERS, EIB-29 (Sept. 25, 2019).


America’s Diverse Family Farms: 2018 Edition, USDA, ERS, EIB-203 (Dec. 12, 2018).

U.S. Rice Production in the New Millennium: Changes in Structure, Practices, and Costs, USDA, ERS, EIB-202 (Dec. 3, 2018). 

Farm Households Divide Their Time Between On-Farm and Off-Farm Labor, USDA, ERS, Amber Waves (Dec. 2, 2018).

Economic Returns to Farming for U.S. Farm Households, USDA, ERS (August 2018).

Current Indicators of Farm Sector Financial Health, USDA, ERS, AmberWaves (July 2018).

Agricultural Productivity Growth in the United States: 1948-2015, USDA, Amber Waves (June 2018); supporting data and analysis at Agricultural Productivity in the US (USDA, ERS).

More Microloans Issued in Regions With Higher Concentrations of Small Farms and Beginning Farmers, Women, and Minorities, USDA, ERS, Amber Waves (Apr. 02, 2018)

Older Operators Often Run Small Family Farms, Particularly Retirement and Low-Sales Farms, USDA, ERS, Amber Waves (Mar. 2018).

Changing Farmland Values Affect Renters and Landowners Differently, USDA, ERS, Amber Waves (Feb. 2018).

Farmland Values, Land Ownership, and Returns to Farmland, 2000-2016, USDA ERS, Econ. Res. Rep. No. 245 (Feb. 2018). See related Amber Waves article: Changing Farmland Values Affect Renters and Landowners Differently.



U.S. Cropland is Consolidating in Larger Farms, USDA, ERS, Amber Waves (Dec. 2017) (including compelling graphs and statistics).

America’s Diverse Family Farms: 2017 Edition, USDA, ERS, Econ. Inform. Bull. 185 (Dec. 2017).


Farmland Ownership and Tenure,  USDA, ERS (Apr. 10, 2017) (Graphics and analysis on farmland tenure and use). 


Mergers and Competition in Seed and Agricultural Chemical Markets, USDA, ERS, Amber Waves (Apr. 2017).

Nearly 14,000 USDA Microloans Issued Between 2013 and 2015, USDA, ERS, Amber Waves (Mar. 2017).

2014 Tenure, Ownership, and Transition of Agricultural Land (TOTAL) Survey, USDA, ERS  (Mar. 2, 2017) (Details about agricultural land for 25 States, 6 regions, and the contiguous United States).


USDA Agricultural Projections to 2026, Interagency Agricultural Projections Committee, Office of the Chief Economist, World Agricultural Outlook Board, USDA, Long-term Projections Rep. OCE-2017-1 (Feb. 2017).


Farm Household Income Volatility: An Analysis Using Panel Data From a National Survey, USDA, ERS, Econ. Res. Serv. Rep. No. ERR-226 (Feb. 2017);  See related Amber Waves article, Farm Households Experience High Levels of Income Volatility, USDA, ERS, Amber Waves (Feb. 2017).


USDA Microloans for Farmers: Participation Patterns and Effects of Outreach, USDA,ERS, Econ. Res. Rep. No. ERR-222 (Dec. 2016).

Rural America at a Glance, 2016 Edition, Econ. Inform Bull. No. EIB162 (Nov. 14, 2016). See USDA, ERS, webpage on Rural Poverty & Well-being.


The Changing Organization and Well-Being of Midsize U.S. Farms, 1992-2014, USDA ERS, Econ. Res. Rep. No. ERR-219 (Oct. 31, 2016).


Farm Profits and Adoption of Precision Agriculture, USDA, ERS, Econ. Res. Rep. No. ERR-217 (Oct. 18 2016).

Selected Charts 2016, Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials, USDA,ERS, Admin. Pub. AP-073 (Oct. 18, 2016).

Corn and Soybean Production Costs and Export Competitiveness in Argentina, Brazil, and the United States, USDA, ERS, Econ. Inform. Bull. No. EIB-154 (June 2016).

Understanding the Rise in Rural Child Poverty, 2003-2014, USDA, ERS, Econ. Res.  Rep. No. ERR-208 (May 2016).

Relevant CRS Reports:

CRS are now directly available from the Congressional Research Service, on its website at Some of the 2018-19 reports that are most relevant to agricultural finance and credit issues are direct linked below. 

Farm Credit Administration and Its Board Members, Cong. Res. Serv. In Focus Rep. No. IF10767 (Oct. 18, 2019).

2018 Farm Bill Primer: Beginning Farmers and Ranchers, Cong. Res. Serv. In Focus Rep. No. IF11227 (May 28, 2019).

U.S. Farm Income Outlook: August 2019 Forecast, Cong. Res. Serv. Rep. No. R45924 (Sept. 19, 2019).

U.S. Farm Income Outlook: March 2019 Forecast, Cong. Res. Serv. Rep. No. R45697 (Apr. 16, 2019).

Farm Debt and Chapter 12 Bankruptcy Eligibility, Cong. Res. Serv. Insight Rep. No. IN11073 (Mar. 15, 2019) (archived by CRS -  note that after publication of this report, Congress raised the debt ceiling for Chapter 12 Bankruptcy).


U.S. Farm Income Outlook for 2018, Cong. Res. Serv. Rep. No. R45117 (Updated Dec. 11, 2018).

Agricultural Credit: Institutions and Issues, Cong. Res. Serv. Rep. No. RS21977 (Mar. 26, 2018).

U.S. Farm Income Outlook for 2018, Cong. Res. Serv. Rep. No. 45117 (Feb. 27, 2018).

Farm Credit System, Cong. Res. Serv. Rep. No. RS21278 (May 17, 2016). 








General Legal Resources


Agricultural Law Resources










Susan Schneider began her legal career advising family farmers in financial distress. She integrates this practical experience into all of her teaching and writing. She now serves as the William H. Enfield Professor of Law and Director of the LL.M. Program in Agricultural & Food Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law.

2010 - present

2010 - present