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Biden nominee Jennifer Moffitt clears first senate hurdle

Senate Agriculture Committee recommended her confirmation on a voice vote

By Jean-Paul McDonald

California native and current undersecretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Jennifer Moffitt, is one step closer to becoming U.S. agriculture undersecretary for marketing, as she has just received a recommendation from the Senate Agriculture Committee by a voice vote on Monday.

The high-ranking role takes on the responsibilities of national agricultural marketing and regulatory programs, including regulating genetically engineered crops. Moffit would also be responsible for grain inspections and check-off programs, as well as the protection of U.S. crops from pests and diseases and fair competition in the marketplace.

In a statement from Senate Agriculture chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) the senator said that Moffitt has broad support for confirmation. “As a farmer herself, she gets what is at stake in our agriculture system and will fight to expand and protect market opportunities as undersecretary,”. Stabenow also noted that one republican has placed a hold on her nomination.

Moffitt referred to President Biden’s executive order to promote competition, including tougher fair-play rules in livestock marketing during her July 15 confirmation hearing. “Transparency is important, price discovery is important, regional processing capacity is important,” she said. “All of these things together are very important to create a fair and robust agricultural marketplace.”

Senator John Boozman (R-Arkansas), who is the lead republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, said Moffit understood the day-to-day impact of USDA programs as well as its role in expanding the market for U.S. farm goods.

Moffit, along with agricultural law expert, Janie Hipp, are the first of four nominees announced by the White House to be approved for a floor vote for one of the eight undersecretary posts. The only high-rank USDA nominee to be confirmed by the Senate is former Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, now Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Dr. Jewel Bronaugh.

The committee will hold confirmation hearings this Thursday for Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico, who has been nominated for undersecretary for rural development, and Robert Bonnie, current USDA climate adviser, who has been nominated for undersecretary for farm production and conservation.

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