Farmers’ income and debt

Updated: 16 March 2023


Next update: Not yet determined

Average net entrepreneurial income from agriculture for farmers
Average net entrepreneurial income from agriculture for farmers
198 700

About the statistics

The statistics present figures for incomes and debt for persons who are operating agricultural holdings, independent of the holding as source of income. The amounts are derived from tax statistics for personal tax payers.

Agricultural holding

A single unit both technically and economically, which has single management and which produces agricultural products. The holding is independent of municipality boundaries. The agricultural holding's headquarter must be located to an agricultural property.


The person considered responsible for operating the holding.

Gross income

Total wages and salaries, pensions, entrepreneurial income and property income.

Wages and salaries

Comprise payments in cash and in kind, taxable sick pay and unemployment benefit.


Cover all benefit paid by social security and private pension and life insurance benefit.

Entrepreneurial income

A result of the activities of a self-employed person, and is estimated from profit and loss account and balance sheet. The entrepreneurial income is transferred to the tax return and is included in the calculation of ordinary income.

Entrepreneurial income from agriculture

This is positive entrepreneurial income from agriculture according to the tax return. In addition, entrepreneurial social security benefits in agriculture, forestry and fishery are included. Deductions such as membership payments to industry organisations, the year's entrepreneurial deficit, interest on debt and a separate agricultural deduction are not deducted. Income from any supplementary industry executed on the holding, e.g. forestry, are included in other entrepreneurial income if the industry concerned are considered as independent according to taxation.

Capital income

Consist of interest income, dividends, realised capital gains, rent and other income from property.

The following classifications are used in the tables: county where the holding is located, size of holding expressed in decares of utilised agricultural area, type of farming of the holding and sex of holder.

Oslo County is merged with Akershus County.

Name: Farmers’ income and debt
Topic: Agriculture, forestry, hunting and fishing

Not yet determined

Division for Housing, Property, Spatial and Agricultural Statistics


Annual, about 55 weeks after the reference year

Not relevant

A data file with anonymous individual data is stored at Statistics Norway.

The purpose is to present statistics on incomes and debt for persons who are operating agricultural holdings, independent of the holding as source of income. An essential feature of the Norwegian agriculture is that many persons that are running agricultural holdings work part-time in agriculture or the work is concentrated to the growing season. Many holders have wage/salary or entrepreneurial income from other industries as main source of income.

Statistics Norway has produced statistics on the farmers' income, property and taxes based on the tax assessment for personal taxpayers since 1968. More detailed tax return data have been presented from 1999 and onwards.

There is much focus on level, distribution and development of incomes of holders in agriculture. The main users of the statistics are the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, the Agricultural Budget Commission, the Norwegian Farmers Union, the Norwegian Smallholders Union etc.

No external users have access to the statistics and analyses before they are published and accessible simultaneously for all users on at 08 am. Prior to this, a minimum of three months' advance notice is given in the Statistics Release Calendar.

Yearly, Statistics Norway also presents Income statistics for all self-employed persons . At first level the self-employed persons are classified into two groups: self-employed with main income from industry and self-employed with main income from wages/salaries and pensions. Furthermore, those with main income from industry are classified into primary industries and other industries. Primary industries consist of agriculture, forestry and fishery.

The The Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research yearly presents Account Results in Agriculture and Forestry. This survey shows results for holdings where most of the family's total income are derived from the holding. More information:

Statistics Act §§2-1, 3-2

Not relevant

Agricultural holdings are operated by two main types of holders: natural person and legal person. The total number of holdings has been decreasing over many years, while during the last years the number of holdings operated by a legal person has increased. The percentage of holdings operated by a legal person has increased from 1 per cent in 1999 to 6 per cent in 2008. Later, the percentage has been almost unchanged. The statistics on the farmers' income and property cover only agricultural holdings operated by a natural person.

The holdings vary much in size, from hobby-like production to holdings with a turnover of more than NOK 1 million. Some of the holdings have small-scale production under the threshold to be considered an industry by the tax authorities.

The individual person who is considered as responsible for operating the holding is referred to as holder (farmer). Some holdings change holder during the year. Mainly, the holder being holder as per 31 July the year concerned is included. For the holders information has been obtained on any spouse, registered partner or cohabitant. Up to and including 2004, cohabitant included only he/she who had children in common with the holder. As from 2005, also cohabitant who lived together with holder according to the Population and Housing Census 2001 and still has common address is included.

Married couples and registered partners who jointly operate a holding may share the taxable entrepreneurial income. Cohabitants who want to share the entrepreneurial income from a jointly operated holding have to organise the management as a legal entity other than sole proprietorship, or one of them has to be an employee.

The population of persons may differ from one table to another. Mainly, a table either comprises holders only or an aggregate of holders and spouses/registered partners/cohabitants.

The statistics are based on the population of agricultural holdings operated by a natural person and tax return data. Division for Income and Wage Statistics links data from the Tax statistics for personal tax payers to the population of farmers. The tax statistics for personal taxpayers is a total census based on data from the ordinary tax assessments.

For more information:

The statistics are based on collocation of data files that have been separately edited when established. Furthermore, the statistics have been examined for extreme values, i.g. values for individual holders or spouses/partners/cohabitants which significantly influence the whole population of agricultural holdings operated by a natural person. Individuals who fulfil one or more of the following conditions are omitted from the statistics: had a gross income of more than NOK 100 million, had a debt of more than NOK 100 million or had property of more than NOK 300 million. Annually, this concerns about 10 individuals.

Some holders and spouses/partners/cohabitants operate holdings separately. To avoid double counting, information from the tax return data are linked to the holding with the largest production. Annually, this concerns about 100 couples.

Average figures for a variable, e.g. wages and salaries for the holder, is estimated by summing up the value of the variable wages and salaries for all holders and divide the sum with the number of total holders. This means that holders without wages and salaries are included in the average figures.

Not relevant

Figures are not presented if there is a risk of identifying any unit.

Changes in the tax regulations influence the data and consequently the statistics over time. The tax regulations were significantly changed as from 1992. The statistics are essentially comparable for the period 1992 - 2002. In 2003, the tax return forms filled in by self-employed persons were considerably changed. Particularly, a separate deduction in entrepreneurial income from agriculture was deducted before the entrepreneurial income was transferred to the tax return form. Due to this neither the entrepreneurial income nor the gross income are comparable with the other years. As from 2004, the agricultural deduction again is stated as a deduction on the tax return.

Changes in tax regulations as from 1 January 2006 increased taxes for certain types of income. Due to this, taxpayers realised income in 2005 to avoid increased taxes in 2006 or later years.

Changes in the regulation concerning governmental production subsidies as per 31 July 2002 have caused increased number of holdings operated by other legal entities than sole proprietorship. This concerns particularly the legal entities general partnership and general partnership with shared liability. Furthermore, the changes of the regulation has influenced the number of holders participating in joint operation (organised as general partnerships) and at the same time running their own enterprise (sole proprietorship). Before 2002, holders participating in joint operation in milk production had to apply separately for area production subsidies. Now, the participants may choose whether they will cultivate fodder in own separate enterprise or operate the area jointly.

From 2002, holders applying governmental production subsidies as a general condition had to be registered in the Value Added Tax Registration List. Later, the minimum turnover for being in this list has increased. In order to still include small holdings, a new condition was introduced; the holding has to have an overall turnover, included withdrawal of commodities, over a certain threshold during the last 12 months. At the time being, this threshold is NOK 20 000. From 2014 there is no threshold.

A revised calculation of type of farming of the holdings was implemented in the Farmers' Income and Property 2007. The revision has caused a fall in the farm types "Various grazing livestock" and "Mixed crops - livestock", while the farm type "Other field crops" has increased. Other farm types are hardly affected.

New changes in the type of farming classification have been introduced as from 2010. Before 2010 standard gross margin (SGM) was used as common unit of measurement for various crop and livestock husbandry within a holding. From 2010 and onwards SGM is replaced by standard output (SO). Some other changes concerning the methodology are also introduced. The two versions are not fully comparable.

The most important source of error is that taxpayers may fill in incorrect information on income, deductions, property or debt in the personal tax return or place amounts under wrong items. In most cases this will be detected and corrected by the local tax offices. Nevertheless, errors that do not influence the assessment of taxes may be ignored. Furthermore, errors may also originate during the scanning of the tax return forms, despite of the fact that controls are executed.

A non-significant number of holdings are missing information on income etc. No information is imputed for these holdings.

Statistics Norway receives data from the Directorate of Taxes before all complaints from taxpayers are finished.

Not relevant