U.S. Senate confirmed by voice vote Bill Northey in a key position at the USDA. Northey's confirmation had been on hold by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in a dispute revolving around the Renewable Fuels Standard. Agriculture organizations including the National Pork Producers Council applauded today’s Senate confirmation.
Northey, who is serving his third term as Iowa’s agriculture secretary, will be USDA’s undersecretary for farm production and conservation.
“Secretary Northey will be a great asset at USDA for U.S. agriculture,” said NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill. “Farmers and ranchers couldn’t ask for a better person to lead this important USDA department.”
Before heading the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Northey served as president of the National Corn Growers Association and on Iowa’s USDA Farm Service Agency state committee. He also was a Dickinson County (Iowa) Soil and Water Conservation District commissioner.
In his job at USDA, Northey will oversee the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Risk Management Agency. Programs within those departments include crop insurance, conservation, disaster assistance and producer lending services.
“I applaud Bill Northey’s patience over these many months, which demonstrates what a strong leader he will be at USDA,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said. “We thank everyone who worked on his confirmation. Bill will come aboard at a crucial time, as his knowledge and expertise will be immediately put to use as the new Farm Bill is formulated to address the needs of American farmers. In addition, his leadership will be key in the newly-constituted mission area, where the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Risk Management Agency will be providing an even better customer experience.”
Northey is a fourth-generation Iowa farmer that grows corn and soybeans on his farm near Spirit Lake. In his three-terms as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Northey has promoted science and technology-based solutions to better conserve the state’s soil, water and air, helped to expand ethanol infrastructure and helped tell the story of Iowa agriculture including through his avid use of social media.
“The secretary is a farmer and has been a great leader for Iowa agriculture over the past 11 years,” Maschhoff said. “He’s coming to USDA at a critical time, with Congress getting down to work on the next Farm Bill, which the livestock industry wants to include a vaccine bank to address a Foot-and-Mouth Disease outbreak.”
Source: National Pork Producers, Iowa Farm Bureau, USDA