Bill Northey Obituary

Bill Northey obituary – American politician and former Secretary of State for the U.S state of Iowa has died aged 64.

Northey passed away Monday, February 5th 2024.

His death has sparked an outpouring of grief and shock with people attempting to come to terms with it.

In this article, we remember the life and legacy of this great American.

Bill Northey obituary

bill northey obituary

Who was Bill Northey?

Bill Northey was a prominent leader in Iowa agriculture and a former U.S. Department of Agriculture official.

He was born on May 17, 1959, in Spirit Lake, Iowa, where he grew up on a fourth-generation farm. He graduated from Iowa State University in 1981 with a degree in agricultural business. He married Cindy Northey in 1983 and they had three children: Rachel, Logan, and Erica.

Northey began his career in agriculture as a farmer and a soil and water conservation district commissioner.

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He served as the president of the National Corn Growers Association from 1995 to 1996 and was involved in various other agricultural organizations.

He was elected as the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture in 2006 and served for three terms until 2018. He was known for his efforts to promote soil conservation, water quality, renewable energy, animal health, and trade.

In 2018, Northey was appointed by President Donald Trump as the Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation at the USDA.

He oversaw the implementation of several farm programs, including the Market Facilitation Program, the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, and the disaster relief packages. He also worked on issues such as foreign animal disease preparedness, biofuels, and climate change.

Northey resigned from the USDA in January 2021 and became the CEO of the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, a trade group representing the state’s agribusiness sector.

Bill Northey died unexpectedly in February 2024 at the age of 64. The cause of his death was not disclosed.

His family and friends expressed their shock and sorrow at his passing.

Bill Northey obituary – tributes

bill northey usda

Northey’s death was met with an outpouring of condolences and tributes from his colleagues, peers, and admirers in the agricultural community and beyond.

Some of the notable reactions and statements are as follows:

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds: “Bill was a great leader whose work ethic and passion for Iowa agriculture was unmatched. Iowans and farmers around the country were fortunate to have such a rock-solid advocate and friend. Bill understood well our responsibility to be good stewards of the land and exemplified that calling throughout his career. But his life’s greatest role was as a loving husband, father, and grandfather. Bill will be missed. Kevin and I offer our deepest condolences and prayers to Cindy and their family.”

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig: “I am in shock at the news of Bill’s unexpected passing. Jaime and I send our deepest and sincerest condolences to Cindy and the entire Northey family.

“Bill was a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a farmer. He loved Iowa and he loved Iowa agriculture. His curiosity, care for others, and love of learning made him a leader that everyone could admire.

“Bill brought a farmer’s work ethic to every aspect of his life, and he was tireless in promoting our state, its people and our agriculture.”

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U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley: “Today the Iowa farm community lost a giant. Bill Northey was a dear friend and fierce advocate for the family farmer. As Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture and Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation at the United States Department of Agriculture under President Trump, Bill’s commitment to agriculture, biofuels and conservation were unmatched.

“The Northey family have been friends of the Grassleys since 1980, for over two generations. Our prayers are with them during this difficult time.”

Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue: “Bill Northey was a true friend and a great public servant. He was a farmer at heart who understood the challenges and opportunities facing American agriculture.

“He was a leader who worked tirelessly to implement policies that helped farmers and ranchers across the nation. He was a man of integrity, faith, and kindness. Mary and I are heartbroken by his passing and we pray for his family and loved ones.”

Former U.S. Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney: “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 to his wife Cindy, and his family. It is a sad day for U.S. agriculture.”


Bill Northey left behind a legacy of service, leadership, and innovation in Iowa and U.S. agriculture.

He was instrumental in advancing the interests of farmers and agribusinesses in the areas of soil health, water quality, renewable fuels, trade, and disaster relief.

He was also a mentor and a role model for many aspiring and current agricultural leaders.

He was widely respected and admired for his intelligence, humility, and generosity. He will be remembered as a champion of agriculture and a friend of the farmer.


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is an executive department of the United States federal government that aims to meet the needs of commercial farming and livestock food production, promotes agricultural trade and production, works to assure food safety, protects natural resources, fosters rural communities and works to end hunger in the United States and internationally.

It is headed by the secretary of agriculture, who reports directly to the president of the United States and is a member of the president’s Cabinet. The current secretary is Tom Vilsack, who has served since February 24, 2021.

Approximately 80% of the USDA’s $141 billion budget goes to the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) program.

The largest component of the FNS budget is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as the ‘Food Stamp’ program), which is the cornerstone of USDA’s nutrition assistance.

The United States Forest Service is the largest agency within the department, which administers national forests and national grasslands that together comprise about 25% of federal lands.

The USDA is divided into eight distinct mission areas, each of which have at least one agency dedicated to the theme of the mission area.

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