Administrative Publication No. (AP-104) 27 pp

August 2022

COVID-19 Working Paper: Farm Sector Financial Ratios: Pre-COVID Forecasts and Pandemic Performance for 2020

The sound financial health of the U.S. farm sector is vital because of its importance to food security and for the wellbeing of U.S. farm households and rural communities. Analyzing key financial ratios is one way to examine the financial health of the farm sector. This study compares 2020 values for farm sector financial ratios before and after the onset of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Forecasts from the February 5, 2020, release of the USDA Economic Research Service’s Farm Income and Wealth Statistics data product represent the prepandemic (before) forecasts. Those forecast values are compared to the data released on February 4, 2022, which represent the realized values for 2020 and include pandemic impacts on commodity demand and the policy response to the economic shock. Solvency ratios (which are indicators of the sector's ability to repay financial liabilities via the sale of assets) worsened in 2020 relative to prepandemic expectations. Efficiency ratios (which evaluate the conversion of assets into production and revenue) and liquidity ratios (which are indicators of the availability of cash to cover debt payments) showed mixed outcomes for the realized results in 2020 relative to the pre-pandemic forecasts. Four profitability ratios were stronger in 2020 relative to pre-pandemic expectations. All solvency, liquidity, and profitability ratios plus 2 out of 5 efficiency ratios for 2020 were weaker than their respective average ratios obtained from 2000 to 2019 data.

Keywords: Coronavirus, Farm Financial Ratios, Solvency Ratios, Efficiency Ratios, Liquidity Ratios, Profitability Ratios, Direct Government Payments

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