DES MOINES — Mike Naig, deputy secretary of agriculture since 2013, has been promoted to lead the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.
He will succeed Secretary Bill Northey who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday to be undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Mike Naig has been a dependable deputy for Bill Northey,” Gov. Kim Reynolds said Thursday in announcing the appointment. “He has gained the experience, knowledge and staff connections necessary to complete Bill’s term through January 2019.”
Naig, who will turn 40 on March 2, has indicated he would like to serve longer. He has expressed interest in seeking the GOP nomination for secretary of agriculture — a race that is attracting interest from at least four other Republicans.
With the appointment, Naig becomes the fourth person to fill a statewide constitutional office without being elected.
Reynolds, who succeeded Gov. Terry Branstad, Acting Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, who was appointed by Reynolds, and Auditor Mary Mosiman, a Branstad appointee, are the others.
Attorney General Tom Miller, Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald and Secretary of State Paul Pate were elected to their offices.
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Naig, who worked in private industry before joining the Iowa ag department in September 2013, said Thursday he wants to build on the momentum that has been created on water quality and conservation practices.
“With long-term funding now in place, we are positioned to build on the exciting progress that has already been made and scale-up our efforts to achieve the water quality goals we all share,” he said.
As secretary, Naig added, he wants to “build markets for the crops and livestock, ... including promoting renewable fuels and expanding international trade.”
Before joining the Department of Agriculture, Naig was manager of state and local government affairs for Monsanto. He also served in public policy roles for CropLife America in Washington, D.C., the Agribusiness Association of Iowa and the Iowa Biotechnology Association.
Naig, who was paid $124,703 in 2017, grew up on a farm near Cylinder in northwest Iowa and is a graduate of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake with degrees in biology and political science.
At the Iowa ag department, he’s been responsible for policy, budget and personnel.
“I have spent my entire career in agriculture and am inspired by the passion and commitment of the hardworking 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 to better represent their interests and be responsive to their needs.”