Off-farm Income Increasingly Important

A new study shows increasing dependence on off-farm employment and income reveals the growing economic interconnection of rural communities and surrounding cities.

According to a study by researchers at the University of Missouri, 82 percent of U.S. farm household income now comes from off-farm sources.

The study was commissioned by CoBank and completed in partnership with CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange.

Most farmers cited reliable income as the top reason for off-farm employment, as half of farm households have negative farm income in a typical year.

Health and retirement benefits were also cited as key reasons for off-farm jobs within farm households.

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.

Today, only 6.5% of workers in rural counties are employed in agriculture, compared to 15.4% in 1970.