Xochitl Torres Small Nominated to Be Deputy Ag Secretary

February 15, 2023 by Dan McCue
Xochitl Torres Small Nominated to Be Deputy Ag Secretary
Former Rep. Xochitl Torres Small to be promoted at Agriculture Department.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has nominated Xochitl Torres Small to serve as deputy secretary of Agriculture. 

Small currently serves as the under secretary for rural development. Her promotion comes as the department prepares to enter into negotiations with Congress over the next farm bill.

The farm bill guides U.S. farm policy for a five-year period. The current bill expires on Oct. 1.

Her nomination now must be confirmed by the Senate. Once confirmed, she will replace Jewel Bronaugh, who announced last month that she was stepping down to spend more time with her family.

“Under Secretary Torres Small represents the heart and soul of rural communities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack after her nomination was announced. 

“She began her work in southern New Mexico, serving as a field organizer in Colonias, and continued her work in rural New Mexico as a field representative for Sen. Tom Udall, where she collaborated with local leaders and elected officials. She went on to the University of New Mexico School of Law and, in 2018, became the first woman and first person of color to represent New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, the largest district that isn’t its own state,” he said. 

“Throughout her career, Torres Small has put her experience to use in the name of making lasting investments in the people, institutions and infrastructure essential for tribal nations and communities throughout the rural U.S. to thrive. 

“Her expertise will further USDA’s mission to advance equity and opportunity in and for rural America, and USDA’s commitment to build an organization invested in the success of its workforce and the customers we serve,” the agriculture secretary said.

Small, the granddaughter of farmworkers, was confirmed to serve as under secretary for rural development in October 2021.

She served in Congress for one term, from 2019 to 2021, representing a competitive New Mexico district that former Republican President Donald Trump won in 2016. 

She was the first woman and first person of color to represent New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District.

While in Congress, Small was seen as a centrist, and she served as a member of the House Agriculture Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, and as chairwoman of the Oversight, Management, and Accountability Subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee. 

She was succeeded by Republican Rep. Yvette Herrell. 

As Vilsack noted, prior to her election to Congress, Small worked as a field representative for Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., clerked for United States District Court Judge Robert C. Brack, and served as an attorney practicing water and natural resources law.

Until Small is confirmed, Kevin Shea, administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, will serve as acting deputy secretary.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and @DanMcCue

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  • Agriculture
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