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The financial well-being of farmers varies with the local economy's dependence on farming. Farming dependent counties (where farming contributes at least 20 percent of the county's total earnings) offer limited nonfarm employment opportunities. These operators earn high farm incomes but face large debts. Declining land values have lowered their equity positions. Government payments provide a larger share of their incomes than for farms in other areas because these farmers specialize in producing crops included in farm commodity programs. Farms in counties not so dependent on agriculture are smaller, produce more and diversified crops, rely less on farming for income, and have better equity positions. Average farmland values there are higher because farming competes with other business, residential and recreational land uses. This report examines the financial well-being of farm operator households in counties that rely on farming for earnings.


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