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Senate ag leaders support Xochitl Torres Small as deputy secretary of USDA

Senate ag leaders support Xochitl Torres Small as deputy secretary of USDA

Torres Small appeared in front of the Senate Ag Committee on May 10

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

President Biden’s nominee to be the next deputy secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) cleared another hurdle last week.

Xochil Torres Small, who the president nominated for the position back in February to replace the outgoing Jewel Bronaugh, received bipartisan support from members of the Senate Ag Committee during her confirmation hearing on May 10.

“It is clear to me that Ms. Torres Small has a proven track record as a strong leader, which will be needed as the department faces unprecedented challenges like tackling the climate crisis and helping farmers manage geopolitical risks,” Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate Ag Committee, said during the hearing.

Ranking Member John Boozman also supported Torres Small’s nomination.

But the USDA’s lack of transparency is something she will need to address if confirmed, he said.

“The lack of transparency about USDA’s spending, the lack of a meaningful response to Congress and the lack of accountability by USDA is troubling,” he said. “Let me be clear, I do not believe you are responsible for this specific issue, but as the deputy you must provide leadership to USDA’s appointed officials and the career agency heads and create a culture of accountability.”

Torres Small committed to using her position as deputy secretary to cut red rape and delays for USDA programs.

Updating technology so “you don't have to open six different programs to enter one thing. It's about making sure we have ways to simplify our processes, whether it's how we get an engineering report so that it's a little simpler, or we're removing match requirements so that folks can better qualify for our programs,” she said during the confirmation hearing.

The committee did not vote during the hearing. The full Senate will conduct a vote at a later date.

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