Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Thursday named Mike Naig to lead the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Naig, currently deputy secretary, will become the state’s secretary of agriculture as soon, as Bill Northey resigns to move on to USDA. That could happen as soon as next week, sources tell Wallaces Farmer, although no official date has been set yet.
Naig will serve the remainder of Northey’s term, through January. Northey was confirmed by the U.S. Senate earlier this week to be undersecretary of agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services at USDA. Naig is 40 years old; Northey is 58.
In naming Naig as the new Iowa secretary of ag, the governor cited a commitment to continuity and stability. “Mike Naig has been a dependable deputy for Bill Northey, serving since September 2013,” said Reynolds. “He has gained the experience, knowledge and staff connections necessary to complete Bill’s term through January. I’m pleased Mike has stepped up to serve his fellow Iowans in this elevated role.”
After being appointed by Reynolds on Thursday, Naig tweeted, “Thank you @IAGovernor for the opportunity to serve. I'm ready to hit the ground running!”
Committed to building on conservation momentum
Naig plans to “build on the momentum that’s been created on water quality and accelerating our adoption of conservation practices. With long-term funding now in place, we are positioned to build on the exciting progress that has already been made and to scale-up our efforts to achieve the water quality goals we all share.”
Naig is looking forward to traveling the state, meeting with farmers and other residents, learning more about Iowans’ concerns and ideas.
“I congratulate Secretary Northey on his confirmation as undersecretary at USDA,” says Naig. “His confirmation was long overdue, but now that the Senate has acted, Bill Northey will be a tremendous advocate for U.S. agriculture in his new role. It’s been an honor to serve as a partner with Secretary Northey to help lead the Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship for the past four and a half years. I look forward to continuing to work on behalf of the people of Iowa.”
Must continue to build markets
“I’ve spent my entire career in agriculture and am inspired by the passion and commitment of the hard-working men and women who keep us fed and fueled,” Naig said. “I look forward to traveling the state as secretary to meet with and hear from Iowans, so I can better represent their interests and be responsive to their needs.”
He said, “We must also continue working to build markets for the crops and livestock we raise so well here in Iowa, including promoting renewable fuels and expanding international trade. I look forward to hitting the ground running and working with the many diverse stakeholders who are so important to our state’s ag industry and strengthen all aspects of our ag economy.”
As deputy secretary, he’s overseen several of IDALS operations, including policy matters, budget and personnel. The department has about 335 employees.
Faces full slate of competition in election
Naig grew up on a farm near the small town of Cylinder in northwest Iowa and continues to help his father and uncle with their crop and livestock operation. Mike and wife Jaimie have three sons, and live in Urbandale.
With the 2018 election coming in November, Naig will face several opponents running for Iowa secretary of agriculture. Among the Republican candidates are: Craig Lang, past president of Iowa Farm Bureau, and Ray Gaesser, a farmer from Corning and past president and chairman of the Iowa Soybean Association. Also, running as Republicans are two northeast Iowa farmers: Dan Zumbach and Chad Ingels.
A Democrat, Tim Gannon, has entered the race. He worked for eight years at USDA under Secretary of Agriculture of Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa governor.