Northey on “Iowa Press”

Bill Northey, the Spirit Lake farmer who was elected Iowa Ag Secretary in 2006, is the guest on this weekend’s “Iowa Press” program on IPTV.  During this morning’s taping, Northey discussed the governor’s budget plan for his agency. He predicts 50 jobs will be eliminated in the coming year through a combination of outright layoffs, attrituion and some retirements. 

Will Iowans notice?

“Generally, most folks will still not necessarily see that something is not safe,” Northey said, referencing a reduced number of inspectors, like that those oversee ag feed and fertilizer dealers, for example.. “But the challenge is at what level does that risk become high enough that it starts to impact regular Iowans?”

Northey, a Republican, intends to seek reelection in 2010.  He did ponder running for governor, but decided against it last year.

“Did you know that Terry Branstad was (going to run) and that’s why you decided against it?” I asked Northey about 18 minutes into the show.

“No, I didn’t know and I didn’t know who was going to be in or out and certainly some folks have left since then,” Northey said.  “…For me, it just wasn’t the right time…I’m certainly glad and appreciate the field that is out there and that race is very, very important to the state of Iowa.”

I followed up with this: “You appreciate the field of people who are running for governor on the Republican side.  Do you intend to endorse one of them before the primary?”

Northey gave a self-deprecating answer.  “I haven’t said that I won’t, but I doubt that I will…First of all, I don’t think anybody is holding their breath to see what I feel about it anyway.  I don’t think it makes any difference what I feel, but I like the field and I will certainly be there for the nominee.”

Northey also talked in depth about the closure of the John Morrell meatpacking plant in Sioux City and the decision Tyson made to lay off about a third of the workers at its meat packaging plant in Council Bluffs.  Northey addressed the state of the ag economy and he talked about the prospect of paying farmers to allow their fields to flood in order to prevent flooding in urban areas.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.