WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today released the following statement on the confirmation of Xochitl Torres Small to be Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.
Stabenow’s statement, as prepared for delivery, follows:
I am pleased that today the Senate will confirm Xochitl Torres Small to serve as the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. Ms. Torres Small’s impressive and wide-ranging resume makes her an ideal appointee to help lead the more than 100,000 public servants that USDA has stationed at more than 4,500 locations across the country and around the world. Her predecessor in this position, Jewel Bronaugh, was instrumental in helping to restore one of the Department’s key functions—serving our constituents on the ground in the communities in which they work, live, and farm. A trailblazer like Ms. Torres Small, Ms. Bronaugh was the first woman of color to hold the Deputy position at USDA. Her leadership will be missed, but I have every confidence that Ms. Torres Small is up to this task.
The granddaughter of farmworkers, Ms. Torres Small grew up in the borderlands of New Mexico. She began her career working for Senator Tom Udall, clerking for a United States District Court judge, and practicing water and natural resources law.
Ms. Torres Small was the first woman and first person of color to represent New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, which is the fifth largest district in the country. And she has most recently served as the Under Secretary for Rural Development—a position to which she was confirmed unanimously by the Senate just two years ago.
As Under Secretary, Ms. Torres Small proved herself to be a staunch advocate for our rural communities. It was through her leadership that USDA Rural Development secured $2 billion to support rural broadband through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, making USDA the first federal agency to invest these funds in physical infrastructure for high-speed internet.
By moving swiftly to make Rural Development funding available, USDA reduced energy costs for farmers and small businesses. Last year, Congress made the largest investment in rural electric since the New Deal. Under Ms. Torres Small’s stewardship, USDA has been a leader in delivering those benefits to our rural communities.
She worked tirelessly to increase rural communities’ access to programs and improve customer services at regional offices across the country. And importantly, she championed USDA’s workforce, improving staff moral and building out data and technology.
Ms. Torres Small enjoys broad support from over 80 stakeholders, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Grocers Association, Western Growers, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, U.S. Apple Association, USA Rice, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, among many others.
I am also pleased that Ms. Torres Small enjoys broad, bipartisan support in this chamber and was advanced unanimously out of the Committee. The role of Deputy Secretary of Agriculture is not only critical to overseeing the Department’s efforts to support its workforce and improve customer service. The Deputy Secretary position is also vital to our work as we continue to draft a bipartisan Farm Bill. Ms. Torres Small’s confirmation is a great opportunity for the Senate to show that it can work together in a bipartisan manner.
Ms. Torres Small has a proven track record as a strong leader with a deep knowledge of farm, food, and rural policy. I know she will serve the Department and the American people well in her new position, and I urge my colleagues to support her confirmation.
I yield the floor.
# # #