WASHINGTON — The US Senate confirmed Xochitl Torres Small as deputy secretary of agriculture on July 11. The confirmation comes five months after President Joe Biden nominated Torres Small to fill the position in February.
As deputy secretary, she will lead more than 100,000 public servants that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has stationed at over 4,500 locations nationally and internationally.
Most recently, Torres Small served as undersecretary for rural development at the USDA since October 2021. Roger Glendenning will replace her as acting undersecretary, effective July 14.
“Under her leadership, our Rural Development team has made record progress working to drive down energy costs, improve access to high-speed internet, expand processing capacity to help America’s livestock producers attain fairer prices for their work, and provide affordable housing options for rural residents,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
“At this critical time when USDA and the Biden-Harris administration are laser-focused on mobilizing historic investments to rebuild our economy and secure healthier, more vibrant communities for future generations, I am grateful to have Xochitl’s partnership at the helm of the people’s department,” he added. “She has time and again met the moment with a collaborative approach and a can-do spirit, and I applaud Congress for confirming her as USDA’s next deputy secretary.”
Before joining the USDA, Torres Small served as a US representative for New Mexico’s Congressional District 2, making her the first woman and first person of color to represent that district.
Growing up in the borderlands of New Mexico, Torres Small is the granddaughter of migrant farmworkers.
A few days before the Senate confirmed her as the next USDA deputy secretary, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) voiced support for Torres Small, believing her leadership and expertise to prove beneficial advancing the agricultural industry and ensuring all Americans access to nutritious foods.
Quickly following the Senate’s decision, agricultural associations chimed in with their congratulations.
“NCBA (National Cattlemen’s Beef Association) congratulates Xochitl Torres Small on her bipartisan confirmation as USDA deputy secretary,” said Ethan Lane, NCBA vice president of government affairs. “In her previous role as undersecretary for rural development, she was an advocate for rural communities, and we know she will continue supporting our nation’s beef farmers and ranchers in her new role.”
American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Zippy Duvall said, “AFBF congratulates Xochitl Torres Small on her confirmation, and we look forward to working closely with her on the big issues ahead for agriculture. Her previous leadership experience at USDA and her time on the House Agriculture Committee give her important perspective and solid experience to hit the ground running in addressing the challenges and seizing the opportunities ahead for America’s farmers and ranchers.”
On July 12, the Pet Food Institute (PFI) also expressed its support of Torres Small’s confirmation.
“The PFI would like to congratulate Xochitl Torres Small on being confirmed as the new deputy agriculture secretary at the Department of Agriculture,” said Dana Brooks, president and chief executive officer of PFI. “Her position as under secretary for Rural Development at the USDA and her passion for rural communities make her well qualified to hold the prestigious and influential position at the agency. PFI is excited to work with her on USDA programs to advance the interests of the pet food industry.”
Read more about personnel changes throughout the industry.