Farm Progress

Kevin Shea to serve as acting Deputy Secretary pending confirmation

Joshua Baethge, Policy editor

February 15, 2023

2 Min Read
Xochitl Torres Small smiling
USDA Flickr James Pinsky

President Biden has tabbed Xochitl Torres Small to be the next Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. She will replace Jewel Bronaugh who announced last month she would be stepping down to spend more time with her family.

Torres Small has been UDSA Undersecretary for Rural Development since Oct. 2021. Prior to that she was the first woman and first person of color to represent New Mexico’s Second Congressional District. While in the House, Torres Small was a member of the Agriculture Committee and Armed Services Committee. She also chaired the Oversight, Management, and Accountability subcommittee under the Homeland Security Committee.

Before assuming elected office, Torres Small worked as a field organizer in southern New Mexico. She also worked as a Field Representative for Senator Tom Udall, D-NM, clerked for United States District Court Judge Robert C. Brack, and worked as an attorney focusing on water and natural resources law.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says that Torres Small has been an “exemplary member” of the USDA subcabinet and a dedicated advocate for rural communities. He noted that under her guidance, Rural Development was the first federal agency to invest Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds in physical infrastructure for high-speed internet, and the first entity to make Inflation Reduction Act funds available to drive down energy costs for farmers and rural small businesses

Related:Deputy Ag Secretary stepping down

“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,” Vilsack said. “I am pleased President Biden has nominated her to be Deputy Secretary and I am fully confident in Under Secretary Torres Small’s ability to excel in this essential role at the Department.”

The Senate must still confirm Torres Small’s nomination before she can assume her new role. In the meantime, USDA APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea will serve as Acting Deputy Secretary after Bronaugh moves on. Shea has worked at USDA for more than four decades.

About the Author(s)

Joshua Baethge

Policy editor, Farm Progress

Joshua Baethge covers a wide range of government issues affecting agriculture. Before joining Farm Progress, he spent 10 years as a news and feature reporter in Texas. During that time, he covered multiple state and local government entities, while also writing about real estate, nightlife, culture and whatever else was the news of the day.

Baethge earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas. In his free time, he enjoys going to concerts, discovering new restaurants, finding excuses to be outside and traveling as much as possible. He is based in the Dallas area where he lives with his wife and two kids.

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