Committee approves USDA deputy secretary nominee

By Marc Heller | 05/17/2023 04:23 PM EDT

Xochitl Torres Small is poised to become the second-leading official at the Agriculture Department.

Xochitl Torres Small.

Xochitl Torres Small's nomination for Department of Agriculture deputy secretary was approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee on Wednesday. Francis Chung/E&E News

President Joe Biden’s pick for the second-ranking position at the Department of Agriculture advanced in the Senate Agriculture Committee on Wednesday, leaving only confirmation by the full Senate to make the job a reality.

The committee approved Xochitl Torres Small, currently the undersecretary for rural development, to become deputy secretary, essentially serving as the department’s chief executive officer behind Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and ranking member John Boozman (R-Ark.) praised Torres Small in a news release and urged her swift confirmation.


“Ms. Torres Small has a proven track record and a wide-ranging background that make her an ideal candidate to help lead the nearly 100,000 public servants at USDA,” Stabenow said, adding that Torres Small “understands the needs of rural America.”

Boozman, who’s expressed frustration at Vilsack’s initiatives taken without congressional involvement, called Torres Small “a thoughtful leader” and cited her experience as a former member of Congress. Torres Small, a Democrat, was defeated for reelection in New Mexico in 2020.

“Additionally, it will be beneficial for committee members to have someone who has served in Congress, who understands our role, as the second in charge at USDA,” Boozman said.