It's almost impossible to speak with Iowans without them mentioning "ag," or agriculture.
Corn production reached 2.42 billion bushels in 2009, dipped to 2.15 billion bushels in 2010, and jumped to 2.36 billion by 2011. Iowa remains the no. 1 producer of U.S. corn as it beats Illinois production by 409.6 million bushels, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
If it seems odd to single out corn, consider the fact that Iowa creates about 30% of all ethanol in the United States -- an industry that iowacorn.com says accounts for some $13 billion of Iowa's GDP.
The state is also the U.S. king of soybeans, producing 466.1 million bushels in 2011.The production of Iowa manufacturers has soared during the four years of Obama's term thanks to a boom in exports. "Between our agricultural trade and our manufacturing trade -- both playing upon foreign markets -- that's been big for us; so we've had kind of a confluence of events there," says John Stineman, executive director of the Iowa Chamber Alliance and Steve Forbes' 2000 Iowa caucus campaign manager. A relatively weak dollar since the crisis has improved the value proposition for manufacturers to sell goods made in Iowa abroad. For example, Deere & Co. (DE - Get Report) produces John Deere agricultural tractors and engines for manufacturer use in Waterloo, Iowa, and it manufactures self-propelled sprayers, tillage equipment and grain drills in Des Moines. In the past few years John Deere equipment produced in Iowa benefited greatly as world commodity prices soared,