This report is a primer on the use of debt by U.S. farm businesses for policymakers, researchers, and others interested in the financial well-being of U.S. agriculture. It presents data on basic debt-use patterns by farm businesses (in 2011, over 900,000 farms operated as farm businesses based on their size, organizational structure, or the occupation of their principal operator) and explores key trends over 20 years. U.S. farm debt use varies widely by farm size, specialization, operator age, and other farm characteristics. Largescale farm businesses, farm businesses with younger operators, and dairy and poultry farm businesses all have higher levels of debt use. Both average debt-to-asset ratios and the share of farm businesses with high debt-to-asset ratios have declined over time.


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