The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa politicians mourn death of former Secretary of Iowa Agriculture Bill Northey

Northey, 64, left his mark on the Iowa farm community, Iowa politicians said Monday.

Bill Northey, the former Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, died on Monday. He was 64.

Northey served as Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture from 2007-18 and was appointed as Under Secretary by former President Donald Trump, serving from 2018-21.

His death led to an outpouring of statements from Iowa lawmakers and the current Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig.

“I am in shock at the news of Bill’s unexpected passing. Jaime and I send our deepest and sincerest condolences to Cindy and the entire Northey family,” Naig said in a news release.

He said Northey left a positive impact on the state and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Naig highlighted Northey’s work on soil conservation, water quality, and renewable energy, among others, and said Northey was “respected nationally and internationally.”

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Northey was a great leader, complimenting his work ethic and passion for Iowa agriculture.

“But his life’s greatest role was as a loving husband, father, and grandfather. Bill will be missed,” she said.

In response to his death, Reynolds ordered all flags in the state to be flown at half-staff and to remain that way until sunset on the day of Northey’s funeral and internment.

Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand released a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, about Northey’s death. He wrote that despite differences between the two men, Sand had never doubted Northey’s commitment to public service or his love for Iowa.

Iowa Sen. Tony Bisignano, the ranking member on the Senate Education Committee called Northey a champion for Iowa agriculture who had served the state and nation with distinction.

“I join the Iowa farmers who worked alongside him in mourning his passing, and offer my condolences to his family,” Bisignano said.

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, called him a leader and “steadfast advocate” for farmers, in a news release on Monday. She added that Northey’s work helped establish Iowa as a “national leader” on initiatives like ethanol and the Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

“I was thankful to work with him closely during my time in the Iowa Senate and the U.S. Senate on the issues that matter most to our farmers,” Ernst said. “Bill will be greatly missed and leaves behind a legacy of unparalleled passion for Iowa agriculture.”

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Northey was his friend since the 1980s and called Northey a “giant” in the Iowa farm community.

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“Bill Northey was a dear friend and fierce advocate for the family farmer,” Grassley said. “Bill’s commitment to agriculture, biofuels and conservation were unmatched.”

Jeff Kaufmann, chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, said Northey left a mark on the state and had been a dedicated public servant.

“As a stalwart member of the Republican Party, Bill Northey exemplified the values of hard work, resilience, and a deep-seated love for the land,” Kaufmann said. “Bill championed policies that supported our farmers, bolstered rural economies, and ensured the long-term viability of our agricultural industry.”

He also said Northey had a “warmth” and “approachability” to him, on top of a genuine concern for the state and its residents.

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About the Contributor
Alejandro Rojas, News Editor
Alejandro Rojas is The Daily Iowan's news editor. He previously worked as a news reporter covering Johnson County and was the summer executive editor in 2023. He is a senior, double majoring in journalism and political science.