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Biden to nominate Torres Small for USDA job

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Former U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small is pictured in January 2020 as she speaks to attendees at the Democratic Party of Chaves County’s Pre-Primary Convention at the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Roswell. (Daily Record File Photo)

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President Joe Biden intends to nominate former New Mexico Democratic U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small to a key post at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

News of Torres Small’s nomination to be undersecretary of rural development in the U.S. Department of Agriculture was posted Friday on the official website of the White House.

“Throughout her career Torres Small has employed her experience organizing in vulnerable, rural communities to achieve lasting investments that combat persistent poverty,” the message on the website states.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Torres Small would oversee the Department of Agriculture’s federal grant and loan programs aimed at economic development and infrastructure, as well as expanding access to broadband internet, healthcare and housing in rural communities.

Torres Small, 36, represented New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District from 2019 to 2021, where she was both the first woman and first woman of color to represent the 19-county, heavily rural district. She was defeated in her race for re-election by Republican Yvette Herrell.

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In their post announcing the nomination, the White House highlighted Torres Small’s history as a political organizer in southern New Mexico, a field representative for Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, and as an attorney practicing water law.

During her tenure in Congress, Torres Small served on the House Agriculture Committee and became known for introducing bills that centered on issues facing rural communities, such as securing funding for community medical centers, increasing access to broadband internet service, getting more resources for maternity care and funding for water projects.

In separate press releases early Friday, New Mexico Democratic Sens. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan applauded Biden’s selection of Torres Small.

“Her experience and her dedicated and pragmatic approach to public service will be incredibly valuable at a time when rural communities across the country recover from the pandemic, diversify their economies, and build long-term, sustainable growth,” Heinrich said in a press release.

Lujan, who served with Torres Small in the U.S. House before being elected to the Senate last year, also lauded the selection of Torres Small.

“By nominating Xochitl Torres Small to serve as Under Secretary of Rural Development, President Biden is giving America’s rural communities a strong and dedicated voice at USDA. Xochitl has a deep understanding of the issues facing rural residents and businesses, and she brings unmatched energy and empathy to solving our nation’s policy challenges,” Lujan said in the press release.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.