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Torres Small nominated as USDA deputy secretary


President Jo Biden has nominated former U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small of Las Cruces as deputy secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture.

The nomination, announced Feb. 15, “reflects the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to rural prosperity, advancing equity and making USDA the best place to work,” said USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack.

Torres Small was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as USDA undersecretary for rural development in October 2021.

If again confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Torres Small will replace Jewel H. Bronaugh as second in command at USDA.

“I’m honored to be considered for the role of deputy secretary for USDA,” Torres Small told the Bulletin. “From growing up in New Mexico, to representing my home in Congress, to serving as undersecretary for rural development, I’ve seen the hard work in rural America that supports our nation. That’s why rural people deserve every opportunity to thrive in the places they call home. If confirmed, I look forward to continuing to chart a course to deliver on the Biden-Harris administration’s historic investments in rural America, to drive investments in the next generation of workforce, and to ensure USDA is well-equipped to best serve the American people, now and into the future.”

Torres Small was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2018 to represent New Mexico’s Second Congressional District. She lost re-election in 2020.

“The granddaughter of farmworkers, Torres Small grew up in the borderlands of New Mexico. She has worked as a Field Representative for Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Robert C. Brack and served as an attorney practicing water and natural resources law,” the White House said in a news release about Torres Small’s nomination to be deputy secretary.

Torres Small is married to New Mexico State Rep. Nathan Small of Las Cruces.

A graduate of the University of New Mexico School of Law, Torres Small “became the first woman and first person of color to represent New Mexico’s second congressional district,” the news release 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,” Vilsack said. “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.”

“Congratulations to my friend Xochitl Torres Small on her nomination as USDA deputy secretary,” said U.S. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., who served with Torres Small in the U.S. House of Representatives.