Many Iowa grocery stores now offer dozens of microwave popcorn choices but you’d be hard-pressed to find a bag of loose popcorn for popping the “old” way — in a skillet or oil popper. Edith Monro, spokeswoman for the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, says popcorn isn’t anywhere near as big an industry to Iowa as “field corn” used as livestock feed. Monro says with the shift in how popcorn is being consumed, it would certainly be of importance to Iowa’s popcorn farmers but they’re so few, it wouldn’t effect the state’s corn economy. Iowa ranks third in the nation for popcorn production, behind number-one Illinois and number-two Indiana. Monro says she consulted the U-S-D-A for Iowa popcorn production data. She says there’s more decisive data on artichokes and hops than on popcorn. Virtually all corn produced in Iowa becomes livestock feed or ethanol and only a very small fraction is consumed by people — either as sweet corn or popcorn. Monro couldn’t say how the shift to convenient microwaveable bags of popcorn would effect popcorn sales, but either way, the impact will be minimal in Iowa. The latest data shows 188 commercial popcorn farms in Iowa with 12-thousand acres in production. That compares to some 62-thousand corn-for-grain farmers with 12-million acres in production.
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