Legislators pause to honor the late Bill Northey, former Iowa ag secretary

DES MOINES — Moments of silence were observed in the Iowa House and Senate this morning to honor former Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, who died unexpectedly at the age of 64.

Northey served more than a decade as state ag secretary before his appointment as a USDA Under Secretary during the Trump Administration. Speaker Pat Grassley led the tribute in the House.

“One of the things I’ve always appreciated about Bill is he’s a guy who just got out of his tractor, came this job and I think we can all agree very few people, Republican or Democrat, have had a bad thing to say about him, which is truly what I would say is the mark of a public servant,” Grassley said. “So, with that, please join me in a moment of silence for the Northey family.”

Senator Dennis Guth of Klemme worked in a farm group with Northey before Northey was first elected ag secretary in 2006. “A great man of faith, we know where he’s at now. We just want to ask for a moment of silence for his family and friends,” Guth said.

Senator Dan Zumbach, a farmer from Ryan, wept as he spoke about Northey. “i’m heartbroken by the news of Bill Northey’s death. He was genuine, a dear friend and a mentor and fiercely passionate about agriculture,” Zumbach said during remarks on the Senate floor. “Above all, Bill was a farmer….and Iowa agriculture is a better place because of his leadership.”

Northey had been CEO of the Agribusiness Association of Iowa since last March.