Agricultural Finance Databooks--Annual Series, 1976 to 1979

   Publications and papers by Emanuel Melichar   (www. emelichar. com)

Evolution of the Annual Series Databook and its use in the late 1970s
Five issues of the Agricultural Finance Databook--Annual Series (yearly or end-of-year data) that were produced between February 1976 and November 1979 are now at hand.

These Databooks featured presentation of all of the historical data for each series, along with the most often used calculations--changes, percentages, and ratios. The ability to observe the entire historical record from several viewpoints helped to produce insights into current events and made it easier to select the most meaningful values and comparisons to cite in reports and analyses.

In the first, February 1976, issue the presentation reflected the computer output being used internally--lines doubled-spaced in landscape format. Thus most tables required more than one page, for a total of 228 pages.

The seven sections of data each had its own Table of Contents page listing the series and also indicating their source and the period covered. To view these Contents pages that indicate the extensive coverage of annual macro farm financial data,
go to Contents pages,February 1976 Databook--Annual Series.

Two significant additions were made in the September 1976 issue. Calculations of net investment and capital gains were added as Section 545, and the Federal Reserve Board's Flow-of-Funds account for the farm sector was introduced as Section 700. To view details of these additions on the three relevant Contents pages,
go to New Features, September 1976 Databook--Annual Series.
Single-spacing reduced the number of Databook pages to 140.

The flow-of-funds Section 700 was altered and enhanced in the November 1977 annual series Databook. Tables showing the Federal Reserve account were renumbered and given second billing as Section 720, while Section 710 presented more familiar calculations of capital flow and its financing, including several debt ratios whose rising values were beginning to echo the trends found by Tostlebe in his analysis of the ill-fated farm boom of 1915-1919. In April 1977, in a USDA Workshop Discussion, I urged greater analytical attention to these ratios. To view analytical Tables 711.2 and 712.2 and the ratios (see arrows) as they appeared using data through 1976,
go to Debt financing ratios added, November 1977 Databook--Annual Series.

USDA estimates of 1977 farm financial experience prepared for its Outlook Conference in mid-November 1977 indicated that relative use of debt financing had increased further even as income had remained depressed. I had already called attention to this disturbing trend in an August AAEA meetings paper and in November discussed it further in an "Agricultural Finance Commentary" (pages 12-15, Charts 4 and 5) and in an Outlook Conference presentation, (pages 7-10, Charts 4 and 5). I also produced a truncated "Outlook Conference Issue" of the November 1977 annual series Databook limited to showing debt, assets, and Section 710. To see how data for 1977 were estimated and to view the resulting upward trend in farm debt ratios calculated in Tables 711.2 and 712.2,
go to Worrisome debt ratios, November 1977 Databook--Annual Series, Outlook Conference Issue.

The last annual series Databook was produced in November 1979 as another Outlook Conference Issue. It indicated that relative debt financing had continued to increase even though farm income had improved markedly in 1979. Thus the farm sector was making historically high use of debt relative to capital and income flows at the time it entered, in 1980, a prolonged period of much higher interest rates and much lower farm income. To see how these debt ratios rose during the second half of the 1970s, see Tables 711.2 and 712.2 by going to
Relatively high debt ratios, November 1979 Databook--Annual Series, Outlook Conference Issue.

I again discussed the key ratios in my Outlook Conference Presentation on November 7, 1979 (pages 8-11, Figures 4 and 5). At the time, however, there was more interest in whether rural banks would be able to meet 1980 farm loan demands (pp. 12-21),
in rising interest rates (pp. 20-27), and in the USDA forecast of lower 1980 farm income (pp. 28-34).

To view the complete November 1979 annual series Databook, go to:
Agricultural Finance Databook--Annual Series, Outlook Conference Issue
November 1979,   99 pp.
(co-author: Martha Waldheger)