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On January 1, 1974, farm proprietors owned equity totaling $394.7 billion in assets worth $478.8 billion after deducting $84.1 billion in farm debt. Increases in equity ($82.8 billion) and asset value ($92.0 billion) from January 1, 1973, were records, far outstripping any other yearly gains. Over two-thirds ($64.7 billion) of the increase in assets was due to a record 25-percent gain in real estate value, but livestock and crop values also increased rapidly mainly because of higher prices. Farm debt outstanding January 1, 1974, was $9.2 billion above January 1, 1973, with real estate increasing more rapidly than nonreal estate debt. Interest charges of $5.1 billion on farm debt in 1973 were sharply higher—18 percent—than in 1972, reflecting both the increased use of credit and higher interest rates. The 17.6-percent ratio of farm debt to value of assets on January 1, 1974, was down sharply from the 19.4-percent ratio on January 1, 1973, and was the second consecutive decrease since the ratio began a steady climb in 1958. The rapid rises in asset value and more moderate rises in farm debt during 1972 and 1973 caused the ratio to drop. Returns to equity in farm production assets jumped to 10.9 percent for 1973 from 4.7 percent in 1972, reflecting the faster rate of increase in gross farm income than in production expenses. Beginning with 1969, The Balance Sheet of the Farming Sector includes data for Alaska and Hawaii; formerly estimates were available for only the 48 contiguous States.


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