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For questions concerning the definition of Limited Resource Farming and/or supporting economic data, contact: Sarah Cline, Economist, FPAC Business Center.

This site is provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.


Limited Resource Farmer and Rancher (LRF/R)

LRF/R Tool Background and Data Sources


The Limited Resource Farmer and Rancher Online Self Determination Tool is an online tool developed by USDA to help producers determine if they qualify as a Limited Resource Farmer, Rancher or Forest Owner. It provides the county values necessary to qualify for Limited Resource Farmer status. The purpose of this tool is to ensure that limited resource farmers are provided access to USDA technical assistance programs and activities according to Section 622, Agricultural Credit Act of 1987, Public Law No. 100-233, 101 Stat. 1985. This section kept unchanged with the 2008, 2014, and 2018 Farm Bills.

The Limited Resource Farmer and Rancher Online Self Determination Tool was developed in 2003 and is updated annually.

Program Sponsor

The program sponsor for the Limited Resource Farmer & Rancher Tool is Ronald Harris, Director, NRCS Office of Outreach and Advocacy, 703-235-8084. Sarah Cline, Economist, FPAC Business Center, is responsible for the annual data updates.

Limited Resource Definition

The Limited Resource Farmer and Rancher definition was developed by USDA staff in 2002. USDA maintains the current definition for the 2002, 2008, 2014, and 2018 Farm Bills.

Each year, values are updated for: the gross farm sales limit, national poverty level, and 50 percent of the median household income for the previous two years, in order to update the tool. Data sources and calculations are discussed below.

Gross Farm Sales Limitation Update Method

The Gross Farm Sales value is updated annually and is indexed using the prices paid index that is updated annually by NASS. This value is baselined at a 2002 value of $100,000 and then indexed using the Prices Paid by Farmer Index as compiled by NASS to adjust for inflation.

  • Changed to Prices Paid Index (PPI) 2011-baseline = 1.00. October, 2002 baseline = $61,300
  • The PPI in July, 2019 is 110.5. $100,000 * (110.5/ 61.3) = $180,300.

The prices paid index is updated by NASS on the last business day of each month, so data is updated each year using July values.

National Poverty Level Limitation

The National Poverty Level is defined as the Health and Human Services (HHS) Poverty Guidelines. These are issued every January by HHS using Census Poverty Data. The historical data is available here.

Since this data is issued annually, we use the most recent data to update the Self Determination Tool. The other three data items are updated using data released as close to January as possible. For example, given availability of data, the 2019 Poverty guidelines should be used with 2018 income data; the 2018 poverty guidelines with 2017 income data, and the 2017 poverty guidelines with 2016 income data. Data used in the most recent update to the tool is shown in the table below.

YearFirst PersonEach Additional PersonFour Person FamilyAlaska 4 PersonHawaii 4 Person

County Median Household Income

In 2005 The U.S. Census Bureau, with support from other Federal agencies, created the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) program to provide more current estimates of selected income and poverty statistics than those from the most recent decennial census. The SAIPE database provides annual estimated state, county, and school district income data and is updated each January.

This tool indexes the 2017 median household income by per capita real GDP growth from fourth quarter 2005 to fourth quarter 2007. Total US Personal Income is available with a one-month delay. All calculations are done in nominal terms.

Table 7.1. Selected Per Capita Product and Income Series in Current and Chained Dollars

(Figures not adjusted to reflect later revisions by BEA. Also dollars are report on the ‘current’ price base of the annual update. Last Revised on: September 23, 2019. You can see the adjustments from previous year’s data, but we are only indexing up 1.5 years.

Year Per Capita Personal Income Increase from 2005 Increase from previous year
2016 2nd Quarter 49,583 1.3998
2016 Final 50,376 1.4222
2017 2nd Quarter 51,349 1.4497 1.0356
2017 Final 52,318 1.4770 1.0386
2018 2nd Quarter 53,354 1.5063 1.0591
2018 Final 55,091 1.5553 1.0729
2019 2nd Quarter 56,514 1.5952 1.0802

Since the farmers using the tool are comparing this with their previous two income tax returns, using fourth quarter estimates are comparable. So we index the two year old county median household income up to match the previous year’s income tax return.

For FY2020, we adjusted the 2017 County Median Household Income by 1.0802 to get to 2019 2d Quarter incomes to match with the 2019 poverty levels.


The County/Area value updated annually in the database is the higher of the National Poverty Level or 50% of the County/Area Median Household Income, adjusted as described above.

Data updates provided by Sarah Cline.

Page updated: 09/23/2019

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