Farming and Farm Programs:

Impact on the Rural Economy and on Farmers

RCED-90-108BR: Published: Apr 24, 1990. Publicly Released: Apr 24, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the: (1) importance of farm sector employment to the rural economy; and (2) distribution of farm program payments.

GAO found that: (1) nonfarm industries employed 9 out of 10 rural farm workers; (2) over half of U.S. farm families had one or more family members working at nonfarm jobs; and (3) one-half of the average total farm income was earned from off-farm employment. GAO also found that: (1) the distribution of farm program payments did not substantially change after passage of the 1985 farm bill; (2) from 1985 through 1988, the largest percentage of farm payments went to farms with $100,000 to $249,000 in cash grain sales; and (3) the percentage of farm payments decreased for farms with a net cash farm income of $40,000 or more.

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