The U.S. Senate took a voice vote today and approved Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey for a top job in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz placed a hold on Northey’s nomination in October, protesting the success ethanol backers had in maintaining the Renewable Fuels Standard. In recent weeks, Senator Cruz has continually attempted to blame the bankruptcy of the Philadelphia Energy Solutions or PES Oil Refinery on the price of RIN’s which is the compliance mechanism for the Renewable Fuel Standard. Many in the Environmental Protection Agency have gone on record and agreed the RIN’s are not the cause of the PES’ bankruptcy.
A meeting was held at the White House earlier today where Cruz tried to convince President Trump to adopt the Cruz proposal for Renewable Fuel Standard waiver credits that would gut biofuels demand. Iowa Senators Joni Ernst and Charles Grassley were also present and they refused to accept the proposal. They told the President that the idea would destroy ethanol demand. Grassley and Ernst released a statement on the results of the White House meeting.
“While we are glad that President Trump did not make a final decision and no deal was struck, it is very clear he has been presented misleading and one-sided information,” stated Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw. “It is no secret that the President values American manufacturing jobs. In a cynical attempt to preserve the petroleum monopoly, Cruz is telling the president that gutting the RFS could help PES. Not one independent expert agrees with Cruz, and even the EPA’s own analysis disagrees. The facts are clear. Undermining the RFS will not save one refinery job in Pennsylvania, but it could push thousands of farm families into bankruptcy.”
Northey issued a statement today, saying while the confirmation process took longer than expected, he’s excited to go to work in the U.S.D.A. Northey has been Iowa’s secretary of agriculture for 11 years.
“It is a tremendous honor for me to be confirmed to serve as an Under Secretary of Agriculture. I want to thank President Trump for nominating me and Secretary Perdue for his support and encouragement throughout the confirmation process. I also want to thank Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst for their strong support and their tireless work on behalf of my nomination. I greatly appreciate Chairman Roberts, Ranking Member Stabenow and the entire Senate Ag Committee for their bipartisan support of my nomination. I look forward to continuing to work closely with them in this new role.
“While this process has taken longer than expected, I remain as excited as ever to work with Secretary Perdue and the staff at USDA to support of our nation’s farmers and ranchers.
“I want to express my deep appreciation to the people of Iowa for affording me the opportunity to serve in this role for the past eleven years. Working with and learning from the men and women who make Iowa agriculture the dynamic and productive industry that feeds the world has been honor of a lifetime.”
Representative Steve King, a long time advocate for the confirmation of Northey, released a statement on the confirmation:
I am happy to be able to report to you that Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey, has finally been confirmed by the United States Senate to serve as the Undersecretary for Farm and Conservation Programs at the United States Department of Agriculture.
President Trump made the right call when he nominated Secretary Northey to fill this important position within the USDA. Bill is a man of impeccable agriculture credentials, and Iowans have long known that he is the perfect candidate for the job. Secretary Northey has served our state with distinction over the years, and his confirmation is a win for American agriculture and American biofuels.
It is disturbing to me that Secretary Northey’s nomination was needlessly delayed by a handful of members of the United States Senate. No one ever doubted Bill’s qualifications. It all boiled down to a political logjam in the Senate that was only broken after I, and others, held numerous private meetings, made multiple telephone calls, and engaged in public appeals on Northey’s behalf. In the end, though, all our hard work was rewarded and Secretary Northey was confirmed by a Senate voice vote this afternoon.
I know that United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will be pleased to welcome Bill Northey to the USDA. It was just three weeks ago that Sec. Perdue appeared before the House Agriculture Committee on which I serve to discuss “The State of the Rural Economy.” During his testimony, we discussed the importance of getting Bill Northey confirmed.
Congratulations to Secretary Northey on his Senate confirmation! I have no doubt he will continue to make Iowans proud as he works to strengthen American agriculture at the USDA.”.
The Iowa Farm Bureau also released a statement regarding the confirmation:
“For the past decade, Bill Northey has served admirably as Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture, and we wish him all the best in his new role with the USDA leading the newly-created office of Farm Production and Conservation.
Under the leadership of Secretary Northey, Iowa’s agricultural economy has grown and diversified, and Iowa continues to be recognized as a national leader in conservation. Northey has been instrumental bringing new conservation opportunities and advocating for Iowa farmers seeking new and improved conservation practices on their farms. Northey has received praise and accolades for spearheading Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy which has been held up as a model for states in the Mississippi River Watershed.
Secretary Northey’s years of work improving water quality and conservation makes him extremely qualified to lead this new office within the USDA. It’s important to have someone who truly understands agriculture in this important role, and Northey’s experience as a farmer, success leading the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), and strong work ethic makes him a great fit for the position. We look forward to continuing to work with him in his new role.”
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today applauded the Senate’s long-awaited confirmation of Bill Northey to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Northey will serve as Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Service (FFAS)*.
Perdue issued the following statement:
“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.”