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.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, corn production nationally in 2012 was 10.78 billion bushels. Thanks largely to the drought, that's far less than the record high of 13.1 billion bushels set in 2009.
Iowa continues to top the nation in corn production despite weather-related difficulties that made 2012 a challenging year for farmers. The 1.87 billion bushels of corn produced in the Hawkeye State kept it No. 1 even though this was roughly a 20 percent decline from 2011.
Corn has been king in Iowa for generations. It seems likely to remain so well into the 21st century.