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Corn still fuels Iowa economy

Hawkeye State continues to lead nation in its production

Corn production has been a key factor in the Iowa economy for more than 150 years. The state’s 21st-century economy is characterized by increasing diversity. Agriculture isn’t as dominant as once was the case.

Even so, there can be little doubt that corn remains of critical importance. The renewable fuels industries have increased demand for corn as a critical ingredient in manufacturing ethanol. Ethanol production has not only increased demand for corn, but also strengthens corn’s already enormous importance to Iowa’s prosperity.

Iowa leads the nation in ethanol production, with 39 percent (953 million bushels) of the corn grown in Iowa going to create nearly 30 percent of all American ethanol. Corn is in more than 4,000 grocery store items including shampoo, toothpaste, chewing gum, marshmallows, crayons and paper.

Corn is big business in Webster County. In addition to the thousands of acres planted every year by county farmers, there are major industrial facilities that add value to the corn by processing it into other products. The Cargill plant west of Fort Dodge in the industrial park called Iowa’s Crossroads of Global Innovation turns corn into a handful of products. The Valero Renewables plant in that same industrial park and the POET Biorefining plant near Gowrie make ethanol.

Corn has been king in Iowa for generations. It seems likely to remain so well into the 21st century.

Corn producers have been a vital part of the Iowa economy throughout the state’s history and are certain to remain so far into the future.