Speculation swirls around potential Grassley appointment

Pat Grassley

Will Pat Grassley be Iowa’s next Secretary of Agriculture? A lot of people seem to think so.


The Republican State Representative, whose district includes southern Butler, northern Hardin and all of Grundy County, is the presumptive favorite to move into the role if current secretary Bill Northey accepts a newly created position—Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation—at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), but so far, he’s been mum on the rumors: at press time, Grassley had not responded to multiple requests for comment. And those close to Northey say they aren’t expecting the federal appointment to happen overnight.


“It’s still likely months out. If (Northey) would be confirmed, the governor would have the opportunity to appoint somebody,” said Dustin Vande Hoef, the communications director for Secretary Northey. “He’s definitely open to (the position) and will consider it.”


Grassley, a farmer by trade and a 2002 graduate of Dike-New Hartford High School, is the grandson of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and both are still involved in their family operation outside of New Hartford. The representative has long been rumored to be next in line for his grandfather's seat when the 83-year-old senator steps down, and the elder Grassley responded to a request for comment by correctly noting that any decision to appoint a secretary of agriculture would come from the governor.  


The governor (presumably Kim Reynolds by the time a nomination is made) has the authority to make such an appointment, and the position, which is full-time and pays an annual salary of $103,212, would be on the ballot again in 2018. Grundy County Republican Party Chairman Brian Andersen of Reinbeck told The Grundy Register that Grassley would be a perfect fit for the job.


“I think, in general, my first reactions on both counts (referring to Grassley and Northey) would be ‘sorry to see them go,’” Andersen said. “Pat has an excellent background of being on a local family farm. He’d be very well suited to that position, and we’d support him 100 percent.”  


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