The Corn Belt is a region of the Midwestern United States where corn has, since the 1850s, been the predominant crop. More generally, the concept of the "Corn Belt" connotes the area of the Midwest dominated by farming. Many towns in this area are connected to powerful farm organizations with lobbying power.
There is lack of consensus regarding the constituents of the Corn Belt although it often includes: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, southern Michigan, western Ohio, eastern Nebraska, eastern Kansas, southern Minnesota and parts of Missouri. It also sometimes includes: South Dakota, North Dakota, all of Ohio, Wisconsin, all of Michigan, and Kentucky.
The region is characterized by level land, deep fertile soils and a high organic soil concentration.
As of 2008, the top four corn-producing states were Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and Minnesota accounting for more than half of the corn growth in the United States.
On account of new agricultural technology developments between 1860 and 1970, the Corn Belt went from producing mixed crops and livestock into becoming an area focused strictly on wheat-cash planting. After 1970, increased crop and meat production required an export outlet, but global recession and a strong dollar reduced exports and created serious problems even for the best farm managers.
Most corn grown today is fed to livestock, especially hogs and poultry. In recent decades soybeans have grown in importance. The U.S. produces 40% of the world crop.
By 1950, 99% of corn has been grown from hybrids.
In 1997, the USEPA published its report on United States' ecoregions, in part based on "land use." Its "Level III" region classification contains three contiguous "Corn Belt" regions, Western (47), Central (54), and Eastern (55), stretching from Indiana to eastern Nebraska.
- Canadian Prairies, Canada's 'Breadbasket'
- Central Black Earth Region, segment of the Eurasian chernozem belt that lies within Central Russia
- Palliser's Triangle, Canada's semi-arid grain production region
- Peak wheat
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