Agriculture’s collective sigh of relief could be heard from Anaheim, Calif. to Washington D.C. Tuesday, when Bill Northey was confirmed by the Senate to serve as USDA’s Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Service.
“After a lengthy delay, the Senate’s confirmation of Bill Northey demonstrates the positive direction agricultural leadership and policy is moving in Washington D.C.,” said Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CropLife America. “More importantly, growing attention to America’s farmers and ranchers is steering conversations on the Hill and having Northey, a fellow farmer, assist in formulating the farm bill alongside Secretary Sonny Perdue will be invaluable.”
The National Corn Growers Association, of which Northey was once president, was also pleased with the news.
“After a needless four-month delay, farmers across the country will be well-served with Bill Northey finally on the job at USDA,” said Kevin Skunes, president of the organization.
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue also expressed his relief that the long wait imposed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was finally over.
“I applaud Bill Northey’s patience over these many months, which demonstrates what a strong leader he will be at USDA. We thank everyone who worked on his confirmation,” he said in a statement Tuesday. “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. I am excited to finally have Bill on board.”
American Farm Bureau Federation president Zippy Duval said Northey knows how committed farmers and ranchers are to protecting natural resources because he’s a fourth-generation Iowa farmer himself.
“With the confirmation today of Bill Northey as USDA Under Secretary of Farm Production and Conservation, America’s farmers and ranchers have another ally in our work to ensure the sustainability of the agriculture industry for our families, for consumers and for generations to come,” Duvall said on Tuesday.
Many trade groups are also pleased with Northey’s experience in the biofuels industry both as a farmer and serving as Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture, particularly as the contentious debate between biofuels and big oil continues to play out in Washington.
“Northey’s experience in biofuel production and land conservation extends far past his fields in Iowa, and we are keen to see his first steps at USDA and how he can help move agriculture forward,” Vroom said.
Perdue said Northey will serve a 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.
At this time, there is no indication when Northey will resign from his role as Iowa’s agriculture secretary and will join the ranks at USDA.