The USDA is forecasting net farm income at $119.6 billion, the highest level since 2013. The majority of the increase comes from direct government payments. The farm income picture looked very different at the beginning of 2020. In fact, government payments were expected to decline. Then, COVID happened. Congress passed the CARES Act in March including ad-hoc payments for agriculture. Two rounds of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program helped farmers. The Paycheck Protection Program and WHIP+ program were also key. “Prior to the increases in commodity prices, the government support was extremely significant,” said Nathan Kauffman, ag economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. “Recognizing cash flow was still quite weak was something offsetting and mitigating weaknesses during the summer months.” Lawmakers passed more COVID relief in the lame duck session of Congress with an additional $13 billion for agriculture. The implementation of that relief is expected in 2021. Hear the story.