Corn Growers exec taking over as Iowa deputy agriculture secretary steps down

Source: By Donnelle Eller, Des Moines Register • Posted: Monday, January 2, 2023

Grant Menke will become Iowa's next deputy agriculture secretary, replacing Julie Kenney, who is leaving for a new opportunity after nearly five years in the role.

Grant Menke, an Iowa Corn Grower Association executive, will become Iowa’s next deputy agriculture secretary, replacing Julie Kenney, who is leaving the state for a new opportunity after nearly five years in the role, the Iowa Department of Agriculture has announced.

Kenney said Thursday she will make a final decision about what’s next for her after she leaves the state agency. She said in an email she’s grateful for the opportunity to work with Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig, and “I’m proud of all we’ve accomplished over the last five years.”

Kenney “is a passionate advocate for Iowa agriculture, and she has been an incredible asset to the Iowa Department of Agriculture,” Naig said in a statement. “I have greatly valued her friendship, tireless effort, advice and leadership as we have tackled unprecedented challenges and advanced key initiatives in support of Iowa agriculture.

“I know she will continue to make a big impact as she moves into her next opportunity,” Naig said.

Menke, vice president of market development at the corn growers association and Iowa Corn Promotion Board, will assume his new duties beginning Jan. 6.

“Grant brings a lifelong passion for agriculture to the department and is well respected within the Iowa agricultural community through his years of leadership in both the public and private sector,” Naig said.

“As we continue our efforts to scale up our statewide water quality efforts, build markets for our products at home and abroad, attract and retain talent to work in agricultural careers, protect animal health, and deliver on our food safety and consumer protection mission, Grant will be an important partner for me as we lead the talented team at the department,” he said.

Prior to joining the Iowa Corn Growers, Menke worked as the state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development in the Trump administration. He’s also been policy director for the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and held a position on the U.S. Senate Finance Committee staff of U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican.

Menke, a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, was raised on a corn and soybean farm near Calumet in O’Brien County and lives in Ankeny with his wife, Susie, and their four boys.

“I will work hard every day to carry out the vital mission of the department in promoting the responsible use of our natural resources, ensuring consumer protection and advocating for Iowa agriculture,” Menke said in a statement.

Donnelle Eller covers agriculture, the environment and energy for the Register. Reach her at or 515-284-8457.