Energy development payments to farmers vary by region

U.S. map graphic showing annual energy payments, by region, to farm producers for on-farm energy development between 2011 and 2020.

Energy markets experienced significant shifts beginning in the early 2000s, with price increases and technological improvements leading to a dramatic increase in oil and natural gas production, as well as wind energy development. Research by USDA, Economic Research Service shows that the Plains region had the largest share of farm producers receiving energy payments from energy developers for on-farm energy production, 7.40 percent, and the largest average annual payment, $39,087, between 2011–20. This region includes States with significant oil, natural gas, and wind energy production, such as Texas and Oklahoma, as well as a high proportion of farmers who own the oil and gas development rights to their land. The West and Atlantic regions have a far lower share of producers who received payments on average, 2.18 and 2.82 percent, respectively. Significant oil and gas production in the Atlantic is limited to Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and many producers in the West do not own their land’s oil and gas mineral rights, which can be legally separated from land rights. However, for those receiving payments, the average annual payments in the West and Atlantic regions were $31,821 and $29,015, respectively. These payments were near the national average of $30,482. The lowest proportion of farmers receiving energy payments was in the South, at 1.45 percent. Most Southern States have low potential for large-scale wind energy development and little onshore oil and natural gas development. In the Midwest, where there is little oil and gas production and more wind power, payments were less common, 2.34 percent, and producers received the lowest average payment, $10,953. Read more about the size, frequency, trends, and relative contribution of energy payments to farm operator income in the ERS report The Role of Commercial Energy Payments in Agricultural Producer Income, released in April 2024.

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