Because corn is the largest U.S. crop, in terms of both volume and value. Corn is a major source of food for both humans and animals and it is grown in more countries than any other crop.
The versatile corn plant can thrive in climates as diverse as the arid desert plains of the southwestern United States and the high Andean mountain plains of Ecuador and Peru. The temperate plains of the United States provides some of the best growing conditions for corn in the world, making the United States the world’s top corn producer.
Corn production skyrocketed after World War II when American factories began manufacturing chemical fertilizers. These fertilizers contain large amounts of nitrogen, a naturally occuring element necessary for plant growth. With the advent of nitrogen fertilizers, U.S. agricultural policy became focused on increasing crop production and driving down prices. For nearly seventy years, farmers have received subsidies to produce corn, making the crop cheap and often creating surpluses of it. With corn so widely available, farmers and policy makers have been left to find new and creative uses for it, including using it for animal feed and converting it into artifical sweeteners. Michael Pollan has commented that more than a quarter of the products in American supermarkets now contain corn in some form. In the United States, corn has reached its current ubiquity through a long history of government support from agricultural subsidies.
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