In the past few years, the expansion of corn production nationwide, driven by higher yields, has seen a rise in the commodity's impact on local, state and national economies.

Overall in 2008, the U.S. corn crop of 12.1 billion bushels is valued at approximately $47.19 billion, according to data from the USDA.

While the average farm price for corn dropped from $4.20 per bushel in 2007 to $3.90 by year-end 2008, corn remains America's top crop, said National Corn Growers Association President Bob Dickey.

"Corn growers brought in the second-largest harvest ever in 2008 and corn remains a commodity in demand," Dickey, a grower in Laurel, Neb., said. "Our overall crop value continues to surpass soybeans and wheat, and we're bullish about expanding future uses for our product while increasing our production."

Recently, corn growers in North Dakota released a report detailing the economic impact of corn production in their state. In 2008, North Dakota growers harvested 285.2 million bushels on 2.3 million acres, and corn farming and processing provided nearly $1 billion to the state's economy.

The research, provided by the Center for Agricultural Policy and Trade Studies at North Dakota State University, showed corn generating more economic activity per acre than most other crops, playing a vital role in the state's economy. Corn production (acres planted) and processing (high fructose corn syrup and ethanol) added approximately $2.47 billion to North Dakota's economy during the last five years, with an impact of approximately $932 million in 2008.

In North Dakota, planted corn acres have increased tremendously, from 800,000 acres during the late 1980s to the all-time high of 2.55 million acres in 2007. In the last 10 years, corn acres have grown by 147 percent and now account for one in 10 acres planted across the state.

Growers in Iowa, the top corn-producing state in the nation, also track corn's economic impact at the local level and have released statewide information through the Iowa Corn Growers Association's work with the Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers. Even without including the recent increase in corn values, corn growing in Iowa has added $2.025 billion to the state's economy.

"Whether it's in their hometown or across the state or country, corn growers have a positive impact on our economy, even in these uncertain economic times," Dickey said. "In goods provided, in taxes paid and people hired, corn producers are helping build a better economy in increasing ways."