Corn Farmers Feed and Fuel America

May 17, 2024

Up before the sun rises and into bed long after it sets, farmers are the lifeblood of America. Their commitment to nurturing, cultivating and reaping their harvests sustains the way of life for millions of individuals they will never meet.


Where our nation is today and where we are headed is deeply rooted in the agricultural industry. Specifically, corn farmers are feeding and fueling America through their economic contributions and sustainability efforts.


Strengthening the Economy


As one of the largest sectors in American agriculture, and the world’s largest producer and exporter of corn, our nation’s farmers bolster the economy and help build strong communities. Driving job creation and paying $2.6 trillion in wages, farmers plant and maintain more than 250 million acres of farmland across the country.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture supports these farmers, rural America, and consumers, through programs and policies set in the farm bill. Through the upcoming farm bill reauthorization, there is an opportunity to not only bolster these programs but also support access to affordable crop insurance – both vital to the work of America’s corn farmers.


Each year, corn growers make planting decisions based on markets, growing conditions, and risk calculations. Growers know firsthand the high-risk nature of the business of agriculture, as they face challenges with natural disasters and unexpected market volatility and disruptions. The farm bill plays a critical role in helping growers navigate risks outside of their control. Corn growers are invested in developing forward-looking, market-orientated farm policies.


NCGA’s farm bill recommendations seek to make existing USDA programs more effective, efficient, and responsive through strategic investments and policy enhancements that will protect and bolster America’s Crop. NCGA supports a bipartisan, comprehensive agriculture and nutrition reauthorization in 2024.


Ensuring the next farm bill addresses the priorities of corn farmers is key to strengthening the economy on both the local and national levels.


Driving Sustainability


Corn farmers are stewards of the land. Through continued advances and efficiencies, they help create a more sustainable world for future generations.


With an average yield of 177 bushels per acre, America’s corn farmers produce 32% of the world’s corn on only 17% of the harvested land dedicated to corn production globally.


In fact, between 1980 and 2020, they have:

  • Improved energy use efficiency per bushel by 55%.
  • Reduced soil loss per acre by 40%.
  • Reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per bushel by 48%.
  • Decreased the amount of land required to produce a bushel of corn by 44%.
  • Improved irrigation efficiencies, leading to per bushel declines in irrigation water use of 56%.


The efficiencies don’t stop there – corn farmers continuously look to the future, and by 2030, they’re committed to:

  • Increasing land use efficiency by 12%.
  • Reducing soil erosion by 13%.
  • Increasing irrigation water use efficiency by 15%.
  • Increasing energy use efficiency by 13%.
  • Reducing GHG emissions by 13%.


Corn farmers know achieving America’s clean energy future is possible. These commitments – plus their efforts to provide consumers with lower-cost, lower-emission fuel options – help put this future within reach.


Producing Clean Fuel Options


Each year, about 30% of field corn is used to produce ethanol, a renewable fuel that reduces harmful emissions and bolsters the economy.


Today, nearly every gallon of gasoline contains at least a 10% blend of ethanol. By expanding the marketplace with higher blends like E15 – fuel blended with 15% ethanol and often labeled as Unleaded 88 – we can advance this environmental and economic solution, helping rural economies thrive and cleaning up the transportation sector.


The benefits of corn-based ethanol are far-reaching. In fact, this home-grown fuel:


On top of that, ethanol is a significant economic driver. In 2023, the U.S. ethanol industry:

  • Contributed more than $54.2 billion to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.
  • Supported nearly 394,400 direct and indirect jobs, adding $32.5 billion in household income.
  • Generated about $10.4 billion in tax revenue for federal, state and local governments.


Corn farmers work tirelessly to provide consumers with access to this clean fuel. By removing outdated regulatory barriers hindering full-market access to E15 and passing key policies like the Next Generation Fuels Act, we can support their efforts and help make our clean energy future a reality.


America’s farmers are always there to help – preserving our nation and keeping us going in times of crisis.


These dedicated families and individuals strengthen the economy, advance sustainability, and feed and fuel our nation.


While farmers support us, it’s critical we support them in return. If we don’t, the resources we rely on to maintain our way of life and protect our future will suffer.