Changes at Iowa Agriculture Department: Naig Sworn In, Northey Moving on to USDA

Mar 5, 2018

Iowa has a new secretary of agriculture and will be sending one of its own to Washington, D.C.

Former Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig took the oath of office as secretary in a ceremony at the Iowa Supreme Court Monday afternoon. Naig will finish the rest of Bill Northey’s third term.

New Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig listens as his former boss, Bill Northey, praises Gov. Kim Reynolds for appointing Naig to complete the current term. Northey is leaving after 11 years to assume an under secretary position at USDA.
Credit Amy Mayer / IPR

Northey resigned from the job earlier Monday, after the U.S. Senate confirmed him last week to be an Under Secretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue has emphasized the importance of improving customer service and efficiency in federal programs, Northey says, during conversations the two have had. Northey will be overseeing agencies that manage farm supports, conservation and crop insurance.

“These are the customer-facing pieces of USDA. So these are the areas that farmers work with fairly often and certainly need to work together,” Northey told reporters Monday. “The secretary has talked about that many times, that’s one of the things that drew me to this responsibility.”

After more than 11 years in office, Northey cited the 2015 avian influenza outbreak as one of the memorable events of his tenure.

“It was an extremely challenging time,” he said. “But I think it was also one of those times that we saw the department come together.”

Northey also cites efforts to improve water quality as an important part of his time in office and says he looks forward to taking that experience to the national conservation programs.

Perdue will be in Des Moines tomorrow to administer the oath of office to Northey.

Iowans will elect a new secretary of agriculture in November.