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Iowa has a new secretary of agriculture

By Staff | Mar 30, 2018

It’s been no secret for many months that Bill Northey’s more than a decade as Iowa’s secretary of agriculture was coming to an end. Last fall, President Donald Trump nominated him to fill a vital under secretary post in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Unfortunately, his confirmation was delayed for many months due to political posturing in the nation’s capital that had nothing to do with Northey’s superb qualifications.

On March 6, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue administered the oath of office to Northey. At long last, he is now under secretary for farm and foreign agricultural service at the USDA. That is good news for American agriculture.

Fortunately, a superb successor to lead the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship was close at hand. Gov. Kim Reynolds appointed Mike Naig, who had served as Northey’s deputy at IDALS since 2013, to lead the department.

The new Iowa secretary of agriculture brings a lifetime of relevant experience to the department’s top job. Naig grew up on a family farm near Cylinder. Helped his father and uncle run their crop and livestock farm and still has involvement in that enterprise.

Prior to becoming Northey’s deputy, Naig was active in the agribusiness industry for 13 years. He served in public policy roles with state and national trade associations and in private industry. Naig is a graduate of Buena Vista University with degrees in biology and political science.

Naig is well-prepared to continue the important initiatives Northey pursued including giving water quality a top priority and working aggressively to enhance the Hawkeye State’s already strong presence in the international marketplace for agricultural products.

In a statement issued soon after taking office, Naig made his goals clear.

“I have spent my entire career in agriculture and am inspired by the passion and commitment of the hard working men and women who keep us fed and fueled,” he said. “As secretary I am committed to building on the momentum that has been created on water quality and accelerating our adoption of conservation practices. We must also continue working to build markets for the crops and livestock we raise so well here, including promoting renewable fuels and expanding international trade.”

Farm News agrees with those priorities.

We have strongly supported Northey since he first sought to be secretary of agriculture. His remarkable record makes us proud of having done so. In choosing Naig to succeed him, the governor made an outstanding choice. The leadership of this key department is in good hands.

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