Northey sworn in for USDA post

The long-awaited approval by the U.S. Senate of Bill Northey to serve as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services within the U.S. Department of Agriculture was confirmed on Feb. 27 and sworn in on March 6.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was in Iowa at the Iowa Ag Leaders dinner to swear Northey in for his USDA post.

“We’ve waited a long time for a good man. The patience he displayed throughout this process is an indicator of what kind of steady leader he will be on our team and we are eager for him to get to work. I have to say one of the things I like most about him is he is authentic. In an interview, Bill Northey is the same person as he is to all of you. He puts farmers first,” said Perdue.

Northey goes into his position at a time when farm incomes are down and expected to fall further. He will be serving farmers through the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Risk Management Agency to make it a one-stop shop for farmers to get the answers they need to make decisions for their operations.

The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing on Northey on Oct. 5, during which Northey was favorably reported out of the committee with a bipartisan voice vote. He has the support of more than 60 farm and conservation organizations.

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-KS, chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, said, “I’m pleased the Senate advanced Northey’s nomination. I have no doubt he will be a champion for farmers and ranchers at USDA. Our committee worked in a bipartisan fashion to get Mr. Northey down the road to work at USDA.”

Northey, a farmer from Spirit Lake, Iowa, has served as Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture, an elected position, since 2006. He stepped down on March 5 to move into his new role with USDA. He said of his 11 years at the Iowa position, “It’s a job I’ve loved every day, even though every day hasn’t been easy.”

Iowa’s Gov. Kim Reynolds said, “Bill’s time as Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture was marked with significant progress and innovation in agriculture, including water quality. He provided our state with rock solid leadership in times of droughts, floods and an avian flu outbreak.”

Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Deputy Secretary Mike Naig was sworn in as the new Iowa Secretary of Agriculture upon Northey’s resignation. Naig will serve the remainder of Northey’s term through January 2019. “I think he is more than ready. He has been a full partner the last four years,” said Northey.

“I am excited to work with Secretary Perdue and his team. What I am today is because of the experiences and support I’ve had here in Iowa,” said Northey.

Iowa’s loss is the nation’s gain, said Iowa Soybean Association President Bill Shipley.

“Bill has worked tirelessly for Iowa farmers and we look forward to him bringing his extensive experience to the national level. We’re confident he will be a great asset to the experienced and talented team in place at the USDA and continue to represent agriculture and the state of Iowa with the utmost passion and integrity,” Shipley said.

The National Pork Producers Council president Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Illinois, said Northey will be a great asset at USDA for U.S. agriculture. “Farmers and ranchers couldn’t ask for a better person to lead this important USDA department,” Maschhoff said.

Northey comes to the USDA during a critical time of planning the new farm bill. Livestock organizations are glad he knows the importance of including a vaccine bank to address a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.

“It’s a tremendous honor for me to be confirmed to serve as an Under Secretary of Agriculture. I want to thank President Trump for nominating me and Secretary Perdue for his support and encouragement throughout the confirmation process,” Northey said. “While this process has taken longer than expected, I remain as excited as ever to work with Secretary Perdue and the staff at USDA to support of our nation’s farmers and ranchers.”

Perdue confirmed the importance of working on the Farm Bill, as well as the support of the Renewable Fuels Standard, “I want you all to know that Bill Northey, Sonny Perdue, and President Donald J. Trump stand for the RFS. We want to move toward the culture of E15 blend in-stead of E10.”

Jennifer Carrico can be reached at 515-833-2120 or [email protected].

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