Wages and salaries are largest contributors to off-farm income

For most U.S. farm households, off-farm sources are the main sources of income. In 2021, earnings from farming accounted for an estimated 23% of the average income of farm operator households.

Of the off-farm income, 57% came from wages earned by farm operators and their spouses. The rest is income from other nonfarm businesses, interest and dividends, transfers, and other miscellaneous nonfarm sources (43%). Transfer income, such as retirement benefits, makes up 25% of off-farm income, with most coming from public sources. For farm households, off-farm income can help manage risks associated with farm income variability.