Bill Northey, Iowa's secretary of agriculture, long ago pledged to visit all 99 Iowa counties each year to meet with Iowans to discuss the future of agriculture. Late last year he achieved an important milestone in that effort. Northey has now kept faith with this commitment for a full decade.
Once election season is over, some politicians seem to disappear. Not Bill Northey. He regards this determination to stay in close touch with Hawkeye State residents to be a high priority at all times. Northey began these listening trips soon after taking office and is on the road even when no rendezvous with the voters is imminent.
"Visiting each county every year has been enjoyable and invaluable for me to better understand the diversity and scale of Iowa agriculture and also the passion and commitment of our state's farmers," he said in a statement issued in December 2016. "Getting out to our rural communities; visiting farms, businesses, schools and community meetings; and listening to a wide variety of Iowans is important for all elected officials as we seek to serve the people of our great state."
Iowa agriculture is so diverse that Northey finds it essential to get out of Des Moines to experience directly the richness of this important industry. By visiting each county, he is able to gain detailed knowledge about how the needs of agriculture and related industries vary across the Hawkeye State. An appreciation for the complexity of the agricultural economy is vitally important for all state officials, but especially so for anyone who heads the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.
Iowa's secretary of agriculture plays an important role in helping Iowans evolve an agricultural strategy that can keep this state's rural economy the envy of the world.
The importance of foreign markets to the economic success of Iowa's farmers is often a theme of Northey's remarks and justifiably so.
Northey's expertise makes him a valuable advocate for the agricultural community. This is a man whose insights into the future of agriculture are well worth pondering.
He also is a leader who demonstrates by his actions that he cares what you think.
If he hasn't already been there this year, you can expect to see Bill Northey sometime soon in your hometown or someplace quite nearby.
Farm News applauds Northey's determination to stay in close touch with his constituents. We congratulate him on completing visits to all 99 counties each year for 10 years and look forward to a continuation of that invaluable process far into the future.