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What is the Corn Industry?

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  • Written By: Anna B. Smith
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2016
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The corn industry is the term most often used to refer to the association of American farmers growing corn. This grain is the most widely grown field crop in the US and leads all other nationally grown crops in value annually. It is used in the production of ethanol, processed foods and beverages, and as a feed for livestock. This industry is represented by a large body of lobbyists in the nation's capitol who actively work to promote the interests of its farmers.

Many corn farmers choose to participate in the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), which serves as the largest trade organization in the country for this type of farmer. This association is often responsible for the group of agricultural lobbyists representing the corn industry and the interests of its farmers to the policy makers in Washington DC. These lobbyists attempt, through legal means, to sway new laws, policies, and agricultural regulations in a manner that will generate a positive outcome for corn growers.

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The corn industry works to promote the use of ethanol as a gasoline replacement in cars, as one of its primary concerns. This substance is derived from grain alcohol which can be produced by corn. The production of this alternative fuel represents a steady source of revenue for corn farmers, and can consume more than two billion bushels of the crop in a year. Use of this new fuel source is purported to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions which cars put into the air, and to reduce the need for US dependence on foreign purchased oil.

Processed foods and beverages often contain the ingredient high fructose corn syrup, also known as corn sugar. The highly refined sweetener is derived from this staple grain crop and is a very profitable source of revenue for the corn industry. Corn advocacy groups seek to promote the ingredient as nutritionally similar to refined cane sugar, and encourage consumers to purchase products made with the sweetener. High fructose corn syrup can be found in a variety of products that are artificially sweetened, including applesauce and other pre-processed fruits, cereals, caffeinated sodas, bread and candy.

Corn is also commonly used as a feed for livestock, causing the corn industry and other livestock industries, such as chicken, cattle and horses, to be closely linked in interests. This crop is frequently included in feed blends by both the US and many foreign countries in the Pacific rim. Approximately one quarter of all US production of corn is shipped overseas. It is also a dietary staple for many regions which rely on US foreign aid.

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