Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey is a fourth-generation Iowa farmer that grows corn and soybeans on his farm near Spirit Lake. He started farming with his grandfather, Sid Northey, after graduating from Iowa State University in 1981.
The people of Iowa elected Northey to be Secretary of Agriculture in November of 2006 and he was sworn in on January 2, 2007. Northey ran on a platform of expanding
opportunities in renewable energy, promoting conservation and stewardship, and telling the story of Iowa agriculture.
As Secretary, Northey has committed to traveling to each of Iowa’s 99 counties to hear from farmers and rural residents with a stake in the future of agriculture. These meetings allow him to listen to their needs and better lead the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship as it seeks to serve the people of the state.
On his farm, Northey uses reduced tillage, GPS and grid soil sampling. Besides raising
corn and soybeans, the Northey farm has grown alfalfa and raised hogs and cattle
throughout the years.
Throughout his career in agriculture, Northey has been a leader in a variety of farm
groups. From 1995-96, he served as President of the National Corn Growers Association
and was Chairman of the group in 1996-97. He has led a number of Committees for the Corn Growers, as well.
Following in the footsteps of his grandfather E. Howard Hill, who served as president
from 1947 – 1963, Northey has also been active in Iowa Farm Bureau. He was named a “Friend of Agriculture” by the Iowa Farm Bureau Political Action Committee in 2006
and has served in a number of Farm Bureau offices at the county and state level, including serving as President, Vice President and committee chairman of the Dickinson County Farm Bureau.
Northey has also served on the Iowa USDA Farm Service Agency State Committee, was a Dickinson County Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner and was a board member of Ag Ventures Alliance.
As a result of his involvement in these organizations, Northey has traveled around the
world to view agriculture. He has traveled to Taiwan, Japan (five times), Indonesia and
Singapore (to the WTO Secretariat) representing Iowa farmers. He has also traveled to
another 17 countries spending time studying agriculture production and policy.
He graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Agricultural Business in 1981 and was a member of FarmHouse Fraternity, serving as its President his senior year.