Driven largely by a more than doubling of federal direct payments to farmers, the USDA Economic Research Service is forecasting a $36 billion increase in net farm income contributing to a total tally of $119.6 billion for 2020. That’s an almost 23% increase from 2019 and puts both net farm and net cash farm income well above inflation-adjusted historical averages. But some say the data is a “false positive” and hides a decline in cash receipts for all crops and livestock, down $3 billion from 2019 levels and at their lowest levels since 2016. Direct payments for farm bill and conservation programs, ad hoc payments to offset losses from Chinese tariffs and natural disaster and COVID-19 relief payments all contribute to the federal support component of the current farm income picture. Some economists say these payments make it difficult to project how farm income will shake out in 2021. See more on the latest ERS data.