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Senators, including Ted Cruz, praising Bill Northey

Avian influenza Northey
Bill Northey | Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

After lengthy delay fueled by ethanol debate, Iowa secretary of agriculture is confirmed to USDA leadership post

February 28, 2018

The U.S. Senate confirmed three term Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey as the under secretary of agriculture for farm production and conservation on February 27, and nearly all of the comments I have come across about Northey are positive.

Granted, I have yet to see any remarks from any Democrats about Republican Northey, but with today’s annoyingly hyper-partisan political scene, that should come as no surprise.

However, it wasn’t the Democrats that were responsible for holding up Northey’s confirmation for roughly four months. It was Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

Cruz, who represents a state strong in the oil industry, held out because Northey is a proponent of the ethanol industry. But after a White House meeting regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard, Cruz felt enough progress was made to show signs of a compromise and put an end to the block on the confirmation.

And after all of that, Cruz actually spoke favorably about how he thought Northey would do in the new post.

What Washington leaders are saying

Here is a sampling of reactions from Cruz, fellow senators, and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue:

Cruz: “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.”  

Perdue: "“I applaud Bill Northey’s patience over these many months, which demonstrates what a strong leader he will be at USDA. We thank everyone who worked on his confirmation. Bill will come aboard at a crucial time, as his knowledge and expertise will be immediately put to use as the new Farm Bill is formulated to address the needs of American farmers. In addition, his leadership will be key in the newly-constituted mission area, where the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Risk Management Agency will be providing an even better customer experience. I am excited to finally have Bill on board.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa: “I’m glad that the unrelated hold on Bill Northey was lifted, and he has been confirmed by voice vote. Bill Northey’s nomination to USDA has never had anything to do with a program administered by EPA. Secretary Northey is a highly qualified and honorable man. He and his family waited long enough. I’m looking forward to Secretary Northey’s swearing-in so he can get to work for American agriculture and farmers.” 

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas: “I’m pleased the Senate advanced Mr. Northey’s nomination. I have no doubt he will be a champion for farmers and ranchers at USDA."

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa: “I am thrilled to see Bill Northey’s confirmation in the Senate today. His long-overdue confirmation to this essential role within the USDA is great news for our state and our country.” 

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