New data from the Department of Agriculture shows nearly half of all family farmers and their spouses reported having a job off the farm in 2018.
USDA’s Economic Research Service reports the majority of households, regardless of farm size, say they work off the farm because it is more lucrative than farm work, provides more reliable income, and may offer health and retirement benefits.
Among small family farms, those with annual gross cash farm income under $350,000, about 88 percent reported working off the farm because it was more reliable and 75 percent because it was more lucrative.
Among large-scale farm households, those with annual gross cash farm income of $1 million or more, about 72 percent reported working off the farm because it was more reliable and 51 percent because it was more lucrative. About 40 percent of all principal operators or their spouses who work off the farm listed farm-related financial stress as a reason for having a job off the farm.