Corn Belt
Agricultural or cultural region of the United States
2018 production of corn in the United States
2018 production of corn in the United States
Country United States
States Illinois
 North Dakota
 South Dakota
Railroad grain elevator facilities (2014)
110 or greater grain car
100 to 109
Less than 99
Announced facility (2014)
A map of the states in the corn belt.

The Corn Belt is a region of the Midwestern United States and part of the Southern United States that, since the 1850s, has dominated corn production in the United States. In North America, corn is the common word for maize. More generally, the concept of the Corn Belt connotes the area of the Midwest dominated by farming and agriculture.[1][2]


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.[3] It also sometimes includes: South Dakota, North Dakota, all of Ohio, Wisconsin, all of Michigan, and Kentucky.[4] Some people and industries break the corn belt down even further and refer to it as the Eastern Corn Belt and the Western Corn Belt. [5]

The region is characterized by level land, deep fertile soils, and a high organic soil concentration.[6]

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.[7]

More recently, the USA corn belt was mapped at the county level using the Land use and Agricultural Management Practices web-Service (LAMPS),[8] along with animated maps of changes in time (2010–2016).[9]


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.[3]

In 1956, former Vice President Henry A. Wallace, a pioneer of hybrid seed, declared that the Corn Belt has developed the "most productive agricultural civilization the world has ever seen".[10]

Most corn grown today is fed to livestock, especially hogs and poultry. In recent decades soybeans have grown in importance.

By 1950, 99% of corn has been grown from hybrids.

EPA Ecoregion

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.[11][12]

Panoramic view

Corn fields near Cayuga, Indiana
Corn fields near Royal, Illinois

See also


  1. ^ John Mark Hansen, Gaining access: Congress and the farm lobby, 1919-1981 (1991) p. 138
  2. ^ Thomas F. McIlwraith and Edward K. Muller, North America: the historical geography of a changing continent (2001) p, 186
  3. ^ a b Hart (1986)
  4. ^ "U.S. Department of Agriculture". Archived from the original on October 20, 2017. Retrieved June 1, 2010.
  5. ^ "Eastern Corn Belt Vs Western Corn Belt". January 3, 2023.
  6. ^ Corn Belt, Encyclopædia Britannica Online
  7. ^ USDA State Fact sheets
  8. ^ [1], Kipka et al. 2016, Development of the Land-use and Agricultural Management Practice web-Service (LAMPS) for generating crop rotations in space and time, Soil & Tillage Research, Vol 155, p, 233-249.
  9. ^ [2], Green et al. 2018, Where is the USA Corn Belt, and how is it changing? Sci. Total Environment, Vol. 618, p. 1613-1618.
  10. ^ Edward L. Schapsmeier and Frederick H. Schapsmeier, Prophet in Politics: Henry A. Wallace and the War Years, 1940-1965 (1970) p, 234
  11. ^ "Ecological Regions of North America: Toward a Common Perspective" (PDF). Commission for Environmental Cooperation. 1997. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
  12. ^ "Ecoregion Maps and GIS Resources". United States Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved April 10, 2008.

Further reading

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