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Gross farm income includes cash receipts from the sale of farm products, government payments ‎arising from farm program participation, the value of fuel, feed, fertilizer, see and other inputs ‎consumed on the farm, and the rental value of farmland and dwellings. Farmers often are able to ‎enhance their income by using futures and/or production contracts to achieve a higher selling ‎price than would be available if a crop was sold at the time it was harvested. Often, production ‎contracts require the seller (the farmer) to achieve certain levels of quality and/or quantity in order ‎to qualify for a premium selling price. Many farms participate in U.S. government farm programs in ‎which income support payments are made to farmers who raise program commodity crops and ‎participate in applicable conservation plans to reduce soil erosion and adhere to wetland protection ‎requirements currently in law. ‎

The following table provides an estimate of the per-acre value of major crops grown in the United ‎States in the year 2012. Crop yields vary widely across the country and overall production has an ‎impact on market prices.‎

Table 1. Typical value of major agricultural crops grown in the United States in 2012.

Crop Typical Yield
(-/ acre)
Typical Farm Price
Crop Value
‎866 lb.‎
‎7,449 lb.‎
Corn (grain)
‎123.4 bu.‎
‎39.6 bu.‎
Sorghum (grain)
‎2,788.8 lb.‎
‎46.3 bu.‎

Agricultural commodity prices have not kept pace with rising prices in other segments of the ‎economy, which has decimated the number of small farms. Even though the per-acre value of ‎most major crops is low, the volume and value of crop production in the United States is ‎staggering. The 2007 Census of Agriculture found that U.S. farms sold $297 billion in agricultural ‎products. This was a 48 percent change from 2002 where the U.S. farm receipts totaled $201 ‎billion (Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012; Section 17: Agriculture). Of the 2007 total, approximately 3% ($8 billion) comes to the farm in the form of ‎government payments. The U.S. exports about ¼ of the total U.S. farm receipts, (Frequently Asked Questions About Agricultural Trade) helping to ‎offset trade deficits in other sectors of the economy. Of the total crop production in the U.S., ‎about 30 percent is exported. ‎

The agribusiness sector, which provides production agriculture with necessary inputs and which ‎adds value to farm products, continues to thrive. In ‎‎2010, agriculture and related industries had about 5% percent value-added share of nominal GDP (USDA FAQs) ‎‎($9.95 trillion in 2010). Agriculture employed about 2% of the U.S. civilian labor force (2.63 million ‎hired workers).

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US. USDA. National Agricultural Statistics Service. Crop Values 2012 Summary. N.p., 15 Feb. 2013. ‎Web. <http://usda01.library.cornell.edu/usda/current/CropValuSu/CropValuSu-02-15-2013.pdf>.‎
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U.S. USDA. National Agricultural Statistics Service. 2007 Census of Agriculture: Economics. N.p., 3 ‎Feb. 2009. Web. ‎‎<http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2007/Online_Highlights/Fact_Sheets/Economics/economics.pdf>.‎Exit EPA

‎U.S. USDA. National Agricultural Statistics Service. 2007 Census of Agriculture. N.p., 15 Mar. ‎‎2011. Web. ‎‎<http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2007/Online_Highlights/Fact_Sheets/Economics/farm_labor.pdf>Exit EPA

U.S. U.S. Census Bureau. Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012; Section 17: Agriculture. N.p., ‎‎27 Sept. 2011. Web. <http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/12statab/agricult.pdf>.‎Exit EPA

‎U.S. USDA. Foreign Agricultural Service. Frequently Asked Questions About Agricultural Trade. ‎N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.fas.usda.gov/itp/Policy/tradeFAQ.asp>.‎Exit EPA

U.S. USDA. Economic Research Service. FAQs. N.p., n.d. Web. ‎‎<http://www.ers.usda.gov/faqs.aspx#.UVxs2pMX-5R>.‎Exit EPA


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