Ag Leader, Former USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey Passes Away at 64


Bill Northey, an ag leader who served as the USDA’s Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation from 2018 to 2021, has passed away unexpectedly at the age of 64.

From 1995 to 1996, Northey served as president of the National Corn Growers Association and was chairman of the group in 1996 and 1997. He also served as Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture from 2007 to 2018.

Northey was currently serving as CEO of Iowa Association of Agribusiness at the time of his passing.

Congressman Jim Baird (R-IN-4th District):

“There are few people in American agriculture who have had a bigger impact than Bill Northey. Bill was more than just an expert in public policy, he understood how every decision impacted farming communities and families. We have lost a major leader in the agriculture space. More than that, we have lost an outstanding man. I hope everyone will join Danise and I as we pray for Bill and his family during this difficult time.”

Ted McKinney, CEO of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), who worked with Northey in the USDA while serving as the Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Affairs from 2017 to 2021:

“Bill Northey was my good friend as he was to so very many others. We have lost a titan in U.S. agriculture. All of NASDA expresses sorrow for his loss and our love and support go out to his wife Cindy and his family. As a lifelong leader in the industry, Bill had an immense depth of knowledge and experience that he shared to benefit all of agriculture.

Bruce Kettler, President and CEO of the Agribusiness Council of Indiana:
“Bill Northey was a colleague and friend to many in agriculture. Me included. Through his various roles as Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture, USDA Undersecretary, and most recently as CEO at the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, our conversations and interactions always felt the same: a warm and genuine smile, a positive tone whatever the topic, and a deep understanding of the issues. And there was no doubt that there were going to be laughs and a slap on the back as well. I always left knowing that I was with a cherished friend who loved his state and the industry of agriculture. His wife Cindy and his family are in our prayers for strength and peace during this time of deep loss.”

Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation:

“Agriculture has lost a champion whose life’s work was dedicated to improving the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers across our great country. Bill Northey was a tireless advocate and insightful leader at the state and national levels. He was also a dear friend whom I’ll miss. I know I’m joined by farmers and ranchers across the country in mourning his passing.”

Harold Wolle, President of National Corn Growers Association (NCGA):

“We are deeply saddened by Bill Northey’s untimely passing. Our staff and leaders worked very closely with Bill, as did our Iowa corn growers, and we all agree that he was not only an incredibly kind human being but also an effective advocate who worked his way up to some of the highest echelons of government. He made a difference for the agricultural community every step of the way. His loss will be felt deeply from the halls of D.C. to the fields of the Midwest.”


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