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Bill Northey, an ag leader who served as the USDA’s Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation from 2018 to 2021, has passed away unexpectedly at the age of 64.

From 1995 to 1996, Northey served as president of the National Corn Growers Association and was chairman of the group in 1996 and 1997. He also served as Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture from 2007 to 2018.

Northey was currently serving as CEO of Iowa Association of Agribusiness at the time of his passing.

“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 go out to his wife Cindy and his family. As a lifelong leader in the industry, Bill had an immense depth of knowledge and experience that he shared to benefit all of agriculture,” said Ted McKinney, CEO of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA). McKinney worked with Northey in the USDA while serving as the Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Affairs from 2017 to 2021.

“Agriculture has lost a champion whose life’s work was dedicated to improving the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers across our great country. Bill Northey was a tireless advocate and insightful leader at the state and national levels. He was also a dear friend whom I’ll miss. I know I’m joined by farmers and ranchers across the country in mourning his passing,” said Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation.