DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday congratulated Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey for being selected for a U.S. Department of Agriculture post and expects to have “a lot of qualified people” seeking to succeed him once he is confirmed for the federal job.
“I think history has shown we don’t know what the timeline is,” Reynolds told reporters in reference to the months of preparatory work that preceded former Gov. Terry Branstad’s confirmation as U.S. ambassador to China.
“He’s not going to resign until he’s confirmed by the Senate, and so we’ve got some time if history proves right,” the governor said during her weekly news conference. “When he does, then I’ll appoint somebody to fulfill Bill’s term. There are a lot of people under consideration.”
After months of speculation, Trump administration officials announced last week the president had selected Northey to serve as USDA undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation, a job that requires confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
As undersecretary, Northey would oversee three USDA agencies: the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Risk Management Agency, according to the USDA.
Northey, 58, a Spirit Lake farmer, was first elected secretary of agriculture in November 2006 and re-elected in 2010 and 2014.
The post will be up for election in 2018.
“He’s set the bar high, and I think anybody who would emulate what Bill’s been able to do would be a great person to appoint to that position,” the governor said. “We’ve got a lot of qualified people, so we’ll do the due diligence on that and, when the time is appropriate, we’ll make that decision.”