After months of speculation, Iowa’s agriculture secretary has been nominated for a post with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
President Donald Trump has selected Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey to serve as undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation with the federal agency, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Friday night. The position requires confirmation from the U.S. Senate.
“I am honored to be nominated by the President, and I so appreciate the support and encouragement from Secretary Perdue. I look forward to serving, if confirmed,” Northey said in an emailed statement.
The FPAC undersecretary oversees three USDA agencies: the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Risk Management Agency, according to a news release.
“Bill Northey will continue his honorable record of public service in leading FPAC,” Perdue said in a statement.
“Having served the people of Iowa for the last 10 years as their Secretary of Agriculture, and as a fourth-generation corn and soybean farmer, Bill has a unique understanding of issues facing farmers across the nation. He will be an invaluable member of the team,” he said.
Northey, a Republican, is in his third term as Iowa’s agriculture secretary. He was among the agriculture advisers for President Donald Trump during his presidential campaign.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will be able to appoint a replacement to serve the rest of Northey’s term, once he resigns. The post is up for election in 2018.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, praised Northey’s selection on Twitter, posting “The Voice of IA Ag will now be Voice of American Ag.”
Northey is “an Iowa farmer with dirt under his fingernails who knows firsthand what goes into running a family farm,” Grassley said in a statement Friday night.
“I look forward to working with Bill in his new role. I’ve no doubt he will be an asset to the farmers who utilize USDA programs to ensure the most affordable, safest food supply in the world is available every year for all Americans,” Grassley said.
Northey, 58, was first elected secretary of agriculture in November 2006 and re-elected in 2010 and 2014.
On his farm near Spirit Lake, Northey uses reduced tillage, GPS, grid soil sampling. Besides raising corn and soybeans, the Northey farm has grown alfalfa and raised hogs and cattle through the years, according to his biography on the Iowa Department of Agriculture website.
Northey has been a leader of farm groups, serving as president of the National Corn Growers Association from 1995-96 and chairman of the group in 1996-97. He has led a number of committees for the association as well.
Northey also has been active in the Iowa Farm Bureau, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, E. Howard Hill, who was Iowa Farm Bureau president from 1947 to 1963.
He was named a “Friend of Agriculture” by the Iowa Farm Bureau Political Action Committee in 2006 and 2010 and has served in a number of Farm Bureau offices at the county and state level, including president, vice president and committee chairman of the Dickinson County Farm Bureau.
He graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in agricultural business and received a master’s in business administration from Southwest Minnesota State University in 2004. He and his wife, Cindy, have three children.