Debt Use by U.S. Farm Businesses, 1992-2011

Debt Use by U.S. Farm Businesses, 1992-2011. Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Jennifer Ifft et al. April 2014.

The report presents data on debt-use patterns by farm businesses and explores key trends over 20 years. Average leverage has declined across most farm categories over the past 20 years, as have the share of farms that are highly leveraged and their share of total farm business value of production. While older operators and crop farms are more likely to have benefited from increasing farmland values, livestock farms were also less leveraged in 2011, on average, than they were in 1992. Younger operators, large-scale family farms, and dairy and poultry farm businesses currently have the highest average debt-to-asset ratios. It is these farms that are at highest risk of debt repayment problems if farm income declines or interest rates increase. Nonetheless, most farm businesses appear to be well positioned to withstand such shocks.

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