USDA undersecretary nominees Bonnie and Torres Small votes also cleared out of Senate Ag Committee.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

August 11, 2021

3 Min Read
Jenny Moffitt.jpg
ANOTHER UNDERSECRETARY AT USDA: Jenny Moffitt, whose nomination hearing was held July 15, was officially confirmed by the full Senate on August 11, 2021. Senate Ag hearing screenshot

In action Wednesday, the full Senate confirmed by a voice vote the nomination of Jenny Lester Moffitt to serve as USDA undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. When nominated, Moffitt was serving as the undersecretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture and has the support of over 90 agricultural groups.

The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing on Moffitt’s nomination on July 15, 2021 and voted to advance her out of the Committee with bipartisan support on July 26.  

“Undersecretary Moffitt brings a wealth of experience and a unique perspective as both a farmer and a policymaker,” says Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. “I look forward to working with her to help our farm families and food businesses along the supply chain recover from the pandemic, tackle the climate crisis, keep pests and diseases out of the U.S., and thrive well into the future.” 

Related: California organic farmer nominated as USDA undersecretary

“Jenny Moffitt will bring the knowledge and experience she has acquired through years of farming to USDA where it will be put to good use overseeing the department’s marketing and regulatory programs. I look forward to working with her to increase market opportunities for producers, and believe she will work in good faith to carry out the regulatory authorities for which she will be responsible in a manner that is consistent with congressional intent,” adds Ranking Member John Boozman, R-Ark.

Growing up and working on the farm, Moffitt learned first-hand the importance of taking care of the land and the people who farm it, the Biden administration said in announcing her nomination. Additionally, she served on the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board from 2012-15 and worked for American Farmland Trust from 2002-05.

Related: Nominees continue to fill out top USDA positions

In a letter of support regarding Moffitt’s nomination to Stabenow and Boozman, leading agricultural groups state: “As you continue your efforts to work to engage our industry on challenges our food supply chain faces, it will be important to have a voice like Undersecretary Moffitt who knows the vast array of issues our members deal with on a daily basis. Her leadership at the California state level and ability to address a wide variety of challenges while engaging stakeholders, is exactly the approach and leadership our industry needs in the Marketing and Regulatory Program space."

“Through her expertise on issues related to pest management, both from her personal and professional experience and her experience with dealing with issues related to COVID-19, water quality or farmworker housing and safety, Mrs. Moffit has a proven record of always bringing affected parties together to find a solution,” the groups note.

Additional nominees advance

The Senate Agriculture Committee voted Aug. 10 to advance former Rep. Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico to be undersecretary of Agriculture for Rural Development and Robert Bonnie to be undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation.

“I’m pleased we’re making progress on getting Secretary Vilsack’s team in place,” Stabenow says. “Congresswoman Torres Small and Mr. Bonnie are incredibly well qualified and will be valuable advocates for our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and rural communities across America.”  

Related: USDA nominee promises production, conservation balance

Boozman adds the votes to approve the nominations of former Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small and Robert Bonnie show that the committee continues to adhere to its bipartisan tradition of working together in good faith to ensure a fair process for the president’s nominees.

“I expect that we will continue to act with the same positive bipartisan spirit when we return from the break and consider additional nominees, budget reconciliation and other legislation that come before our committee,” Boozman says.  

The Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Torres Small and Bonnie on July 29, 2021.


About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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