US Senate finally confirms Northey for USDA leadership position

By Ron Kotrba | February 27, 2018

The U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination of Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey Feb. 27 as new USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. Northey was nominated to fill the position last September, but his confirmation was held up for months by Sen. Ted Cruz, an ardent opponent of the Renewable Fuel Standard.

“For four months, Sen. Ted Cruz has used his hold on the confirmation vote as a political football in an attempt to undermine the RFS,” said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. “While it took too long, Sen. Cruz finally realized that Northey had no interest in being confirmed on the back of dismantling the RFS. Iowa Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst head to the White House today determined to push back against the false narratives Cruz continues to push in his efforts to gut the RFS and preserve the petroleum monopoly on our fuel supplies.”

“As I said in November—explicitly and in writing—I would happily lift the hold on Mr. Northey as soon as the Iowa senators sat down with me and President Trump to discuss a win-win solution to the broken RINs system,” said Cruz. “It took four months for that meeting finally to occur, and as soon as it did, Northey was confirmed minutes later. With his significant experience as a fourth generation farmer and his record of public service, I am confident he will be a strong addition to the team Secretary Perdue has assembled at the Department of Agriculture.” 

Northey is a fourth-generation Iowa corn and soybean farmer. He started farming with his grandfather, Sid Northey, after graduating from Iowa State University in 1981.

Northey was elected as Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture in 2006 and reelected in 2010 and 2014.  Northey ran on a platform of expanding opportunities in renewable energy and promoting science and technology to conserve air, soil and water.

Donnell Rehagen, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board, said Northey is “eminently qualified” for his new post at USDA. “He will be an excellent representative of the agricultural economy and a true champion of biodiesel and renewable fuels,” Rehagen said. “We look forward to working with Bill to defend and grow the job-creating RFS program.” 

Iowa Biodiesel Board Executive Director Grant Kimberley said Northey will be a great advocate for farmers nationwide. “As a farmer, and as Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture, his background and experience will be critical as Congress begins crafting a new farm bill in 2018,” Kimberley said. “Bill has always been a staunch supporter of renewable fuels, like biodiesel, and the RFS, and his department in Iowa capably administered important programs like the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program. We know he will make Iowa proud once again.”

Shaw added that the Feb. 27 confirmation vote was long overdue, but very welcomed. “The Trump administration needs more voices that echo, not contradict, Trump’s own support for the RFS,” Shaw said. “Today’s confirmation marks a victory for farmers and biofuels supporters across the country.”


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