Northey remembered as an advocate for ag producers

Bill Northey

A former Iowa agriculture secretary and undersecretary in the Trump administration has died.

William “Bill” H. Northey, 64, Urbandale, Iowa, died Feb. 5, 2024. Northey served as Iowa agriculture secretary from 2007 to 2018 before serving in the U.S. Department of Agriculture as an undersecretary of agriculture for farm production and conservation from 2018 to 2021.

In 2022, Northey was named CEO of Agribusiness Association of Iowa, a position he held until his death.

“Bill was a tireless advocate for agriculture and a beloved leader for the entire AAI staff and organization,” the organization posted on its website. “As we mourn the loss of our close colleague, we also extend our prayers for his family in this difficult time.”

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-IA, noted Northey’s accomplishments.

“The Iowa farm community lost a giant. Bill Northey was a dear friend and fierce advocate for the family farmer,” Grassley said, noting his commitment to agriculture, biofuels and conservation. “The Northey family have been friends of the Grassleys since 1980, for over two generations. Our prayers are with them during this difficult time.”

Champion of corn growers

Northy was a past president of the Iowa Corn Growers and National Corn Growers Association, from 1995 to 1996.

Harold Wolle, president of NCGA, released the following statement expressing condolences after the death of Bill Northey, who served many important roles in agriculture.
“We are deeply saddened by Bill Northey’s untimely passing,” Wolle said.

“Our staff and leaders worked very closely with Bill, as did our Iowa corn growers, and we all agree that he was not only an incredibly kind human being but also an effective advocate who worked his way up to some of the highest echelons of government. He made a difference for the agricultural community every step of the way. His loss will be felt deeply from the halls of D.C. to the fields of the Midwest.”

Advocate of communities

Todd Barker, CEO of Meridian Institute, which leads the AGree Initiative, released the following statement honoring the life of Northey.

“The impact that Bill Northey had on our farming communities, Iowa, and our country will never be forgotten. A farmer through and through, Bill was a reliable voice for our work at AGree and helped ensure producers were always a priority,” Barker said.

“Bill was an innovator on and off the farm and he brought this knowledge to bear in every collaboration. AGree is deeply saddened by this news and sends our condolences to his family. The world lost a resolute advocate and a good man today.”

Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Geoff Cooper offered condolences on behalf of the entire ethanol industry.

“Bill was a passionate and tireless advocate for agriculture and renewable fuels. He dedicated his career to creating a better future for farmers in Iowa and across the country, and he played an important role in the success of the U.S. ethanol industry,” Cooper said.

Northey is survived by his wife, Cindy; his mother, Margaret Northey; daughters Jessica (Thomas) Meierotto, Emily (Eric) Brown, and Katie (Eric) Mattson; and six grandchildren. Bill was predeceased by his father, Wayne Northey.

Services for Bill Northey are set for 3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, at Valley Church, 4343 Fuller Road, West Des Moines, IA 50265. The Iles Funeral Homes-Dunn’s Chapel, 2121 Grand Ave., Des Moines, IA 50312, is in charge of service.

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Memorials maybe sent to GoServ Global or the Bill Northey Memorial Fund in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University. Contributions can be made online at or mailed to the Iowa State University Foundation, 2505 University Blvd, P.O. Box 2230, Ames, IA 50010.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].