DES MOINES — Former Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey has died. Northey, who was 64, was a fourth-generation farmer from Spirit Lake and an Iowa State University graduate.
He talked about his path to becoming Ag Secretary after receiving an Iowa Ag Leader Award in 2022 for his outstanding and distinguished service to Iowa agriculture. “I left Iowa State, came back to the farm, got involved in Iowa Corn Growers, Iowa Farm Bureau and served in some roles in those organizations, and then ran for Iowa Secretary of Ag back in 2006,” he said. Northey said he loved the job. “It’s a a great job. A wonderful job to be a part of, certainly a highlight of my career,” he said.
Northey was reelected twice to the state post and then resigned in early 2018 after being appointed as Under Secretary in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he oversaw the Farm Service Agency.
Current Iowa Ag Secretary Mike Naig said in a statement that he was shocked at Northey’s death. He says Northey was a husband, father, grandfather, and a farmer who loved Iowa and loved Iowa agriculture.
Other Iowa elected officials also reacted to the news. U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley said in a statement, “the Iowa farm community lost a giant. Bill Northey was a dear friend and fierce advocate for the family farmer.” Fellow U.S. Senator Joni Ernst said in a statement, “Bill Northey dedicated his life to Iowa agriculture. Throughout his career as a farmer, leader in key agriculture organizations, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, and U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary, he was a steadfast advocate for the producers that feed and fuel our world. He helped establish Iowa as a national leader on key initiatives including ethanol and the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, while always remaining grounded and connected to his family farm in Dickinson County.”
Governor Kim Reynolds said in a statement that, “Bill was a great leader whose work ethic and passion for Iowa agriculture was unmatched. Iowans and farmers around the country were fortunate to have such a rock-solid advocate and friend.” The Governor has ordered all flags in Iowa to be lowered to half-staff and they are to remain at half-staff until sunset on the day of Northey’s funeral.