Bill Northey

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Bill Northey
Bill Northey.gif
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture
In office
January 2, 2007 - Present
Term ends
January 2019
Years in position 8
PredecessorPatty Judge (D)
Base salary$103,212
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2014
First electedNovember 2006
Campaign $$1,247,538
Term limitsN/A
High schoolSpirit Lake High School (1977)
Bachelor'sIowa State University (1981)
Master'sSouthwest Minnesota State University (2004)
Place of birthSpirit Lake, Iowa
ReligionEvangelical Free
Office website
Personal website
Campaign website
Bill Northey is the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. Northey, a Republican, first assumed office in January 2007 and won a second term in November 2010.[1][2][3]

Northey was most recently re-elected in 2014.[4][5][6] He was uncontested in the June 3 Republican primary and faced two challengers, Democrat Sherrie Taha and New Independent Levi Benning, in the general election on November 4, 2014.


Northey is a fourth-generation farmer. He is the co-founder and president of Innovative Growers, LLC, and has served as a commissioner of the Dickinson County Soil and Water Conservation District. Northey served as President of the National Corn Growers Association from 1995 to 1996 and as chairman from 1996 to 1997.[7][8][9]

Northey was President of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture from September 2011 through September 2012.[10][11]


  • MBA, Southwest Minnesota State University, 2004
  • Bachelor's, Agriculture Business, Iowa State University, 1981

Political career

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture (2007-present)

Northey has served as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture since January 2007. He was first elected in November 2006 and re-elected in 2010 and 2014.[12][13][14][15][16][17]

Northey has made it a goal to travel to each of the state's 99 counties each year in order to hear from all segments of the population affected by agriculture. He lists his priorities as Secretary of Agriculture "as advancing the opportunities available through renewable energy, promoting conservation and stewardship, and telling the story of Iowa agriculture."[18]

2013 Farm Bill

See also: United States Farm Bill 2013

In June 2013, the U.S. Congress rejected a proposed farm bill for the nation, saying it did not go far enough in cutting the food stamp program. With the current Farm Bill set to expire September 30, 2013, Northey said leaders needed to get a bill passed, tweaking it later if necessary.[19]

"We need that bill out there. It's not the big deal it once was to all our producers where our income was based on that farm bill but still it needs to get done. The uncertainty of not having it out there, possibly folks changing around crop insurance or doing other things to it, we need that to happen," Northey stated.[20]

In early July, the U.S. House voted to split the bill into separate farm policy and nutrition assistance components. While Northey said he was "concerned about what it may mean," he did see it as progress, saying, “A split farm bill can mean that we go to conference and get a bill out of there."[21] However, he added, “I think at the end of the day, the bill that comes out has to be the food stamp program and the AG provisions together. I don’t think the senate would pass them separately, I don’t think the president would sign it.”[22]

On July 26, Northey, along with Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, and Director of Natural Resources Chuck Gipp, send a letter to congressional leaders, urging a “swift conference committee resolution of the differing farm bill measures that have passed both chambers of Congress.”[23][24]

With the extension expiring at the end of September, Northey stated, “People who watch it give it very low probability to get it done before the end of September. They have to pass the feeding programs to get it to conference committee and get it passed in both chambers and get it to the president before Sept. 30.”[25]

In early December, Northey sent a letter to Sen. Tom Harkin asking him to support the King amendment that would stop states from dictating agriculture production practices.[26]


On November 15, 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed revising the 2014 renewable-fuel standard, lowering the amount of biofuels, including ethanol, that are added to the U.S. fuel supply.[27] It would be the first reduction since the enactment of the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2007. The agency cited how the increase of ethanol, which was supposed to better environmental quality, actually decreased it - farmers grew millions of acres of additional corn, leading to overuse of land, environmental destruction and an increase in livestock feed prices.[28]

Northey, along with Gov. Terry Branstad (R) and U.S. Rep. Steve King (R), protested the new rules and defended the current policy. Iowa's corn is used to produce some 95 percent of the nation's ethanol.[29] DuPont, Monsanto, Syngenta and the Iowa Farm Bureau all protested the proposed rule change as well.[30]

Hires former Monsanto lobbyist

In late August 2013, Northey announced he was hiring former Monsanto lobbyist Mike Naig as deputy secretary effective September 4.[31] Naig, who came into the position with over 13 years in the agribusiness industry, previously served as manager of state and local government affairs for Monsanto. He also served in public policy roles for CropLife America, the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, and the Iowa Biotechnology Association.[32][33] Northey has a history of financial ties with Monsanto.[34]



See also: Iowa down ballot state executive elections, 2014

Northey ran for re-election as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture in 2014.[35][36]

In announcing his bid for a third term, Northey stated, “First of all I like what I’m doing. We have a lot of things we want to do yet...We have this water-quality initiative that is a pretty big deal and I certainly feel an obligation to follow through on that.”[37]

Northey was uncontested for the Republican nomination in the June 3 primary, and faced two challengers, Democrat Sherrie Taha and New Independent Levi Benning, in the general election.

Bill Northey won the general election on November 4, 2014.


Agriculture Commissioner of Iowa, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngBill Northey Incumbent 62.2% 675,781
     Democratic Sherrie Taha 34.1% 370,209
     New Independent Party Levi Benning 3.6% 39,349
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0.1% 891
Total Votes 1,086,230
Election Results via Iowa Secretary of State.

U.S. Senate

Before he settled on running for re-election as agriculture secretary, Northey was a potential candidate for the U.S. Senate seat left open by Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin's retirement.[38][39][40][41][42]

On May 2, 2013, Northey announced via Twitter that he would not run to replace Harkin in 2014 tweeting, "I have decided not to run for US #Senate. Thx for many kind, encouraging words. Hoping Congr King runs. Other good R candidates as well."[43][44][45][46]


Northey won re-election as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture in the November 2010 election, defeating Democratic candidate Francis Thicke.[47][48][49]

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngBill Northey Incumbent 62.9% 674,572
     Democratic Francis Thicke 37.1% 398,428
Total Votes 1,073,000
Election Results via Iowa Secretary of State


  • Mike Huckabee and Huck PAC[50]
  • Jerry Crawford, longtime Democratic strategist[51][52][53]
  • Iowa Corn Growers Association's PAC[54]
  • Iowa Industry PAC[55]
  • Des Moines Register[56]
  • The Messenger[57]


Northey won election as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture in the November 7, 2006 election, defeating Democratic candidate Denise O'Brien.[58]

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, 2006
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngBill Northey 51.4% 523,539
     Democratic Denise O'Brien 48.6% 495,873
Total Votes 1,019,412
Election Results via Iowa Secretary of State

Campaign themes

Northey's 2006 campaign platform consisted of "taking advantage of the opportunities available through renewable energy, promoting conservation and stewardship both in town and on the farm, and sharing the story of Iowa agriculture."[59]

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Northey is available dating back to 2006. Based on available campaign finance records, Northey raised a total of $1,247,538 during that time period. This information was last updated on July 10, 2013.[60]

Bill Northey's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 Iowa Agriculture Secretary Not up for election $56,186
2010 Iowa Agriculture Secretary Won $526,230
2008 Iowa Agriculture Secretary Not up for election $173,985
2006 Iowa Agriculture Secretary Won $491,137
Grand Total Raised $1,247,538


Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Bill Northey's donors each year.[61] Click [show] for more information.

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See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1., " Bill Northey," accessed June 26, 2013
  2. Iowa Agriculture, " Bill Northey – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture," accessed June 26, 2013
  3. Twitter, "Bill Northey @BNorthey," accessed July 6, 2013
  4. Dickinson County News, "Northey confirms third Iowa Ag Secretary bid," July 17, 2013
  5. Iowa Farm Bureau, "Iowa’s ag secretary seeks another term," July 16, 2013
  6. The Daily Reporter, "Northey confirms third Iowa Ag Secretary bid," July 18, 2013
  7. Project Vote Smart, "Bill Northey's Biography," accessed January 29, 2013
  8. Republican Party of Iowa, "State Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey," accessed June 26, 2013
  9. Public Policy Center, "Bill Northey," accessed June 26, 2013
  10. LinkedIn, "Bill Northey," accessed June 26, 2013
  11. Iowa State University Alumni Association, "Bill Northey 2012," accessed June 26, 2013
  12. WHOTV, "AGRIBUSINESS: Northey Responds To Criticism Of Nutrient Strategy," May 31, 2013
  13. 1011Now, "Iowa, Nebraska Ag Officials Talk Trade with Turkey," June 8, 2013
  14. The Daily Reporter, "NORTHEY ON: IOWA CROPS AND WEATHER," June 13, 2013
  15. Kalona News, "State Sec. of Agriculture Bill Northey visits area," May 22, 2013
  16. Community Newspaper Group, "Northey: Horse owners encouraged to vaccinate against West Nile virus," June 7, 2013
  17. Radio Iowa, "Iowa Ag Secretary says voluntary approach faster path to improved water quality," May 30, 2013
  18. Bill Northey, " Bio," accessed June 19, 2013 (dead link) (dead link)
  19. Esterville Daily News, "Northey has Farm Bill concerns," July 17, 2013
  20. KWWL, "Iowa Ag Secretary: Farm bill needs to be passed quickly," July 8, 2013
  21. WHOTV, "AGRIBUSINESS: Northey: Farm Bill Split is ‘Bad Sign’," July 17, 2013
  22. WHOTV, "FARM BILL: Farmers Ask For Answers," July 22, 2013
  23. Des Moines Register, "Iowa leaders call on Congress to reach farm bill compromise," July 26, 2013
  24. Des Moines Register, "Top Iowans urge passage of farm bill," July 27, 2013
  25. Cedar Valley Business, "Iowa ag secretary wants action on farm bill," September 23, 2013
  26. WHO TV, "AGRIBUSINESS: Farm Bill Negotiations," December 5, 2013
  27. National Journal, "EPA Lowers Renewable-Fuels Target for 2014," November 15, 2013
  28. Washington Post, "Ethanol takes policy blow from the Environmental Protection Agency," November 17, 2013
  29. Quad City Times, "Branstad, King, Northey protest EPA biofuels rules," November 20, 2013 (dead link) (dead link)
  30. KTTC, "Ethanol producers blast EPA for waging a "war on corn,"" November 23, 2013
  31. Des Moines Register, "Bill Northey hires former Monsanto lobbyist as deputy director," August 21, 2013
  32. Emmetsburg Reporter, "Mike Naig Named Deputy Secretary For IA Dept. of Ag and Land Stewardship," August 27, 2013
  33. Bleeding Heartland, "Five problems a Monsanto lobbyist won't help Bill Northey solve," August 22, 2013
  34. Monsanto_election.html Natural News, "Monsanto candidates win election," November 8, 2010
  35. Bleeding Heartland, "Bill Northey seeking third term as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture," July 17, 2013
  36. Explorer Okoboji, "Northey To Announce 2014 Election Plans Saturday," July 12, 2013
  37. Iowa Farmer Today, "Northey plans to run again for Iowa secretary of agriculture," July 19, 2013
  38. Des Moines Register, "Iowa ag secretary Bill Northey says he’ll ‘strongly consider’ U.S. Senate bid," February 28, 2013
  39. Radio Iowa, "Iowa Ag Secretary discussing a run for the U.S. Senate," March 1, 2013
  40. Des Moines Register, "Another top Iowa Republican, Bill Northey, decides against U.S. Senate run," May 2, 2013
  41. Sioux City Journal, "OUR OPINION: Here's to a spirited, issue-focused GOP Senate race," June 12, 2013
  42. Radio Iowa, "Northey says his decision on U.S. Senate race to come in “days”," April 24, 2013
  43. Washington Post, "Northey won’t run for Iowa Senate seat, hopes Steve King will" accessed May 2, 2013
  44. O.Kay Henderson, "State Ag Sec Bill Northey NOT running for US Senate," May 2, 2013
  45. Bleeding Heartland, "IA-Sen: Bill Northey rules out running (updated)," May 2, 2013
  46. The Iowa Republican, "Northey decides not to run for U.S. Senate," May 2, 2013
  47. Iowa Secretary of State, "November 2010 General Election Results," accessed March 25, 2011
  48. Bleeding Heartland, "Northey hires "high-profile staffers,"" May 22, 2009
  49., "Agribiz BFF Bill Northey defeats reformer Francis Thicke for Iowa ag secretary ," November 3, 2010
  50. Huck PAC, "Bill Northey Endorsement," October 15, 2009
  51. Iowa Independent, "Crawford endorsement of Northey ‘not surprising,’ Democrats say," November 1, 2010
  52. Des Moines Register, "Northey lands a Democratic endorsement," November 1, 2010
  53. Thicke for Agriculture, "Thicke Campaign Not Surprised Monsanto Lawyer Endorsed Northey," November 1, 2010
  54. O.Kay Henderson, "Corn PAC endorsements," September 2, 2010
  55. Bill Northey, "JOB CREATORS ENDORSE BILL NORTHEY FOR IOWA SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE," August 7, 2010 (dead link) (dead link)
  56. Chemical News, "The Des Moines Register's endorsement of Republican agribusinessman Bill Northey for secretary o... Endorsement should have gon,"
  57. Messenger News, "Keep Bill Northey on the job," October 10, 2010
  58. Iowa Secretary of State, "November 2006 General Election Results," accessed January 29, 2013
  59. Bill Northey, " Bill's Vision," accessed June 19, 2013 (dead link) (dead link)
  60. Follow the Money, "Career fundraising for Bill Northey," accessed July 10, 2013
  61. Follow the, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015
Political offices
Preceded by
Patty Judge (D)
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture
Succeeded by