Because of the USDA’s broad definition of a farm, the population of farm households is economically diverse. In 2011, households of the principal operators of commercial farms — farms with annual gross sales of $2a0,000 or more — had a median total income of $127,009 and a median income from farming activities of $84,649. In contrast, households associated with intermediate farms — those with less than $250,000 in sales whose principal operators considered farming their primary occupation — typically have a loss from farming.

The same is true for households of rural residence farms, defined as having less than $250,000 in sales but whose principal operator’s primary occupation is not farming. The typical intermediate and rural residence farm household experienced similar losses from farming, but rural residence farm households had higher median total income ($61,260 compared with $45,889) because of greater off-farm income.

Of the three types of farm households, only intermediate farm households had a lower median total income than U.S. households overall ($45,889 compared with $50,054). This chart is based on data found in the Farm Household Well-being topic page on the ERS website, updated November 2012.