WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today joined Senate colleagues on the floor to call for the immediate confirmation of Bill Northey, the nominee to serve as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services.
The Senate Agriculture Committee reported his nomination to the floor on October 19 with unanimous bipartisan support. For over three months, Northey’s nomination has been held by a Republican Senator for unrelated issues.
Senator Stabenow’s statement – as prepared for delivery – follows:
I rise today as Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee in strong support of the nomination of Bill Northey to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services.
Despite historic delays in receiving nominations from the Administration, our committee has worked swiftly on a bipartisan basis to put qualified leaders into place at USDA.
When we get qualified nominees, we move them. And Under Secretary nominee Bill Northey was no exception. He was nominated in September of last year and our Committee quickly held a hearing and reported his nomination with unanimous bipartisan support to the floor on October 19.
Mr. Northey is a highly qualified nominee. He is currently serving his third term as Secretary of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. A farmer himself, he understands what American agriculture needs and has pledged to be a strong leader for our producers.
Unfortunately, instead of serving our farmers and ranchers at USDA, his nomination has languished in partisan limbo because of an unrelated issue raised by a Senate Republican colleague not on the Agriculture Committee.
It’s important to note that Mr. Northey's leadership is needed now on a number of issues, including disaster recovery for our farmers in the aftermath of hurricanes, wildfire and drought.
It’s also important for him to be at USDA to support our farmers struggling with low prices.
For the better part of a year, I have been working with the leaders of the Appropriations Committee, Senators Cochran and Leahy, to find a fix for a few pieces of the 2014 Farm Bill that did not work as well as we wanted--the dairy and cotton safety nets.
The Senate budget agreement contains significant improvements for both commodities – including more than $1 billion in support for our struggling dairy farmers. These much-needed improvements set us up to continue this bipartisanship as I work on the next Farm Bill with Senator Roberts.
When politics gets in the way, our farmers and ranchers lose. However, when we work together and put our differences aside, like we do on the Agriculture Committee every day – then we get things done.
The Senate should not delay any longer. Mr. Northey has strong, bipartisan support and should be advanced quickly so his leadership skills can be put to work at USDA.