Bill Northey, a former Iowa agriculture secretary and notable farm advocate, died on Monday at the age of 64. The cause of death was not disclosed. Cindy, his wife, and their three daughters are still alive. In this post, we provide all the details concerning Bill Northey’s passing.
A Lifelong Champion for Agriculture
Northey, a fourth-generation farmer, raised maize and soybeans on his family farm near Spirit Lake in northwest Iowa. He earned a degree in agricultural business from Iowa State University in 1981 and has worked for a variety of agricultural organizations throughout his career.
He was president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and the National Corn Growers Association boards, as well as the co-founder of Innovative Growers, LLC, a farmer-owned firm that developed specialty grain products.
He was first elected as Iowa’s agricultural secretary in 2006 and was re-elected twice, until 2018. He was well-regarded for his leadership and efforts to promote soil and water conservation, biofuels, animal health, and trade.
He started working with then-Secretary Sonny Perdue at the US Department of Agriculture in 2018 after President Donald Trump named him as undersecretary for farm production and conservation. He handled programs that helped farmers and ranchers, including crop insurance, disaster relief, conservation, and agricultural financing.
In 2022, he was named CEO of the Agribusiness Association of Iowa (AAI), a trade organization that represents the state’s agribusiness sector.
Bill Northey Cause of Death
Bill Northey died unexpectedly at the age of 64. He was a recognized figure in Iowa agriculture, having served as the state’s secretary of agriculture from 2006 until 2017 and then as the USDA’s undersecretary for farm productivity and conservation.
While the cause of his death is unknown, we should commemorate his legacy and the wonderful impact he made on the agricultural community.
*Bill Northey-64 yrs-USA
*Served as Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture for 11 years before joining the Trump Administration
*February 5, 2024
*No Cause of Death Reportedhttps://t.co/EIWkbCKb0i pic.twitter.com/giKnOQ7vf1
— cheri maday (@resilient333) February 5, 2024
Tributes and Condolences
Northey’s death prompted an outpouring of tributes and sympathies from coworkers, friends, and admirers across the state and nation.
I am extremely saddened to learn of the unexpected passing of Bill Northey, former Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, who I have known for decades and who has been a lifelong champion, personally and professionally, for Iowa’s and all of America’s farmers.
— Secretary Tom Vilsack (@SecVilsack) February 5, 2024
Kelly and I are saddened to hear of the sudden passing of former Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey. We are grateful for his for his leadership for Iowa and most importantly, his friendship. Kelly and I are praying for his wife, Cindy, and the entire Northey family. pic.twitter.com/uY3oZkS9dE
— Congressman Zach Nunn (@ZachNunn) February 5, 2024
Governor Kim Reynolds ordered flags to be flown at half-staff until the completion of Northey’s funeral and interment, describing him as “a great leader whose work ethic and passion for Iowa agriculture was unmatched.”
Former USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, who is also a former Iowa governor, described Northey as “a lifelong champion, personally and professionally, for Iowa’s and all of America’s farmers.”
According to Perdue, who is now the chancellor of Georgia’s university system, Northey “had the knowledge and expertise to get things done, not only from his own family’s farm experience but from working for decades in agriculture, to make sure farmers were heard and got a fair shake.”
Other groups and officials that expressed sympathy and admiration for Northey included the Iowa Farm Bureau, the Iowa Soybean Association, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, Sen. Chuck Grassley, Sen. Joni Ernst, Rep. Cindy Axne, and Rep. Randy Feenstra.
Funeral services for Northey will be held on Saturday, February 10, at 3 p.m. at Valley Church, 4343 Fuller Road, West Des Moines, according to Iles Funeral Homes, which is in charge of the arrangements. Details on Northey’s visitation are pending.
The family and the AAI are collaborating to create a service that honors Northey’s meaningful life and work. They ask that instead of flowers, donations be made to the Bill Northey Memorial Fund, which will benefit organizations close to his heart.
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