Economic Information Bulletin No. (EIB-27) 22 pp

September 2007

Effects of Reducing the Income Cap on Eligibility for Farm Program Payments

The current $2.5-million income cap on eligibility for farm program payments affects only a small number of farm program payment recipients each year. A reduction in the cap to $200,000 would affect a larger number of farm households but still only a small share of recipients. Based on IRS tax data for 2004, about 1.2 percent of all farm sole proprietors and about 2 percent of crop share landlords would be potentially subject to the proposed lower adjusted gross income (AGI) cap. ARMS survey data suggest a similar share of farm sole proprietors (1.1 percent) could be affected. When partnerships and farm corporations are included, about 1.5 percent of all farm operator households could be affected because a larger share of farm partnerships (2.5 percent) and farm corporations (9.7 percent) could be subject to the proposed cap. ARMS data indicate that $807 million in payments were received in 2004 by farm operators organized as proprietors, partnerships, and corporations with incomes exceeding $200,000. However, not all of these payments would be affected by a $200,000 income cap on eligibility for payments due to differences in IRS and ARMS data and changes by producers in how they manage their incomes and expenses. The study also found that farm income averaged $271,749 and net worth averaged over $1.86 million for farm households with AGI estimated to be over $200,000 based on the ARMS data.

Keywords: farm program payments, adjusted gross income, farm typology, tax data, AGI cap, farm households, Agricultural Resource Management Survey, farm operator households, ARMS data

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