Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey. (file photo)

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has been nominated to serve in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

On Friday evening, the White House announced President Trump’s decision and, if confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Northey will serve as the USDA’s undersecretary for farm production and conservation.

In mid-May, Northey told Radio Iowa he was “very interested” in working with the Trump Administration on ag policy.

“These kind of jobs are usually not long-term jobs, but it would be an amazing experience,” Northey said of serving in the U.S.D.A.

Northey is 57 years old and is in the middle of his third term as the state’s top agricultural official. Northey said in May that being on “the inside” of the U.S.D.A. would give him greater insight into crucial federal programs that are important to Iowa farmers, plus he’ll be in a position to be a policy advocate.

During an appearance in mid-July, Northey was asked about the challenge of becoming a “bureaucrat.”

“One of the things that happens when you get involved in government is you get really busy. You get stuck in an office and you get this piece of paper you slid across the desk suddenly made some big difference,” Northey told members of the Westside Conservative Breakfast Club in Urbandale. “You don’t remember it’s the person out there who got up in the middle of the night and re-bedded those cattle in the middle of a snowstorm that made a difference of whether you had good livestock production or not and it’s easy to get insulated from that as you get farther away.”

Northey has farmed near Spirit Lake since graduating from Iowa State University in 1981, but this spring, in preparation for a posting in D.C., he handed over the farming operation to someone else.

Once Northey resigns as state ag secretary, Governor Kim Reynolds will name his replacement. A few legislators who are farmers are rumored to be in the mix, including State Senator Dan Zumbach of Ryan, State Senator Tim Kapucian of Keystone and State Representative Pat Grassley of New Hartford — the grandson of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley. Former state legislator Annette Sweeney, a farmer from Alden, served on President Trump’s Ad Advisory Board and may also be in contention for the job. She was elected to the Iowa House the same year as Reynolds was elected to the Iowa Senate. Sweeney also is a childhood friend of agribusinessman Bruce Rastetter, an influential donor in Iowa Republican Party politics. Rastetter supported Sweeney in a House primary against Pat Grassley, which Grassley won in 2012.

Below are some of the written statements released this weekend after Northey’s nomination to the U.S.D.A. was announced:

7:44 p.m. Friday: Perdue Applauds President Trump’s Selections for Key USDA Posts
(Washington, D.C., September 1, 2017) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today applauded President Donald J. Trump’s selection of three individuals for key positions within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  The president announced Gregory Ibach as Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs (MRP), Bill Northey as Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC), and Stephen Vaden as USDA’s General Counsel.
The Under Secretary for MRP oversees three critical USDA agencies: the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; the Agricultural Marketing Service; and the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration.  The Under Secretary for FPAC oversees three critical USDA agencies: the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Risk Management Agency.
“I look forward to the confirmations of Greg Ibach, Bill Northey, and Stephen Vaden, and urge the Senate to take up their nominations as quickly as possible,” Perdue said.  “This is especially important given the challenges USDA will face in helping Texans and Louisianans recover from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.”

…On Bill Northey:
“Bill Northey will continue his honorable record of public service in leading FPAC.  Having served the people of Iowa for the last ten years as their Secretary of Agriculture, and as a fourth generation corn and soybean farmer, Bill has a unique understanding of issues facing farmers across the nation.  He will be an invaluable member of the team.”

7:44 p.m. Friday: NEW HARTFORD – U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley issued the following comment about the nomination today by President Trump of Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey to be Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This position was established in May as part of a re-organization at USDA. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said that aligning the agencies within USDA that serve farmers will “provide a simplified, one-stop shop for our primary customers.”

Grassley comment:

“Bill Northey is an outstanding pick to serve President Trump in the newly created role of Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. In this position, he will oversee the Farm Service Agency which administers traditional farm safety net programs, the Risk Management Agency which manages more than $100 billion of liability for the federal crop insurance program, and the Natural Resource Conservation Service which directs our nation’s conservation programs.
“Whether you’re a Northeast dairy farmer considering insurance options, a corn farmer in Iowa evaluating conservation enhancements for your farm, or a producer in the coastal bend of Texas dealing with disastrous losses of cotton, rice or livestock from Hurricane Harvey, Bill Northey will be responsible for ensuring the USDA is providing the appropriate assistance to your farm. 
“I’ve known Bill Northey for years and he has been an exceptional Secretary of Agriculture in Iowa. His leadership and passion for agriculture were proven numerous times as he advocated for renewable energy and the adoption of conservation practices like cover crops. He’s an Iowa farmer with dirt under his fingernails who knows first-hand what goes into running a family farm.
“I look forward to working with Bill in his new role. I’ve no doubt he will be an asset to the farmers who utilize USDA programs to ensure the most affordable, safest food supply in the world is available every year for all Americans.”

10:50 a.m. Saturday: Ernst on Northey Nomination as Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation at USDA

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, issued the following statement on the nomination of Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey to serve as
Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA):
“Agriculture has been engrained in Bill Northey all his life. As a fourth generation Iowa farmer, he has dedicated his life to helping farmers and ranchers across the state of Iowa. Bill has traveled around to Iowa’s 99 counties to hear directly from folks about the issues they are concerned about and works tirelessly to identify a path forward. Additionally, he has taken part in important international trade missions and understands the need to promote our agricultural bounty abroad.
“For nearly a decade, Iowa has benefited from having a Secretary of Agriculture as committed and hardworking as Bill Northey; he will be greatly missed. However, I know he is the best person for the job and will serve the American people well, along with Secretary Perdue, and will be an advocate on behalf of farmers, and not Washington bureaucrats.”