2022 Census of Agriculture: Interest expense data illustrate distribution of U.S. farm debt

U.S. map showing total interest payments on farm debt, by county, in 2022.

The recently released USDA Census of Agriculture shows interest payments on farm debt in 2022 were heavily concentrated in the upper Midwest, northern Great Plains, and California’s Central Valley. Conducted every 5 years by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the census includes producer responses to questions about production expenses for their farms and ranches, including how much interest they paid on debt. Interest expenditures are a good indicator for where agricultural operations hold debt across the country. In 2022, producers spent $13.4 billion on interest payments, an 8.1-percent real decline from the 2017 Agricultural Census, even though real total farm debt rose 7.8 percent from $390.4 billion to $420.4 billion. Interest rates had dropped throughout most of 2020 and 2021 and were still relatively low during the 2022 calendar year, only beginning to rise in the second quarter of 2022. For more details from the 2022 Census of Agriculture, see the NASS Agricultural Census website. For more on financial sectors and their relationship with agriculture, see the USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) Farm Income and Wealth Statistics data product. See also Increases in U.S. Farm Debt and Interest Expenses Minimally Affect Sector’s Financial Position in the Short-Term, as Measured by Liquidity and Solvency Ratios, published in August 2023 in ERS’s Amber Waves magazine.

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