Senate confirms Moffitt as USDA undersecretary to lead AMS, APHIS

The Senate on Aug. 11 confirmed Jennifer Moffitt as undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs at USDA, where she will oversee the Agricultural Marketing Service and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Moffitt, confirmed by voice vote, most recently served as undersecretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), after working as deputy secretary from 2015-2018. Prior to joining CDFA, she spent 10 years as managing director at Dixon Ridge Farms, her family’s organic walnut farm and processing operation. 
The Senate Agriculture Committee voted to advance her nomination with bipartisan support on July 26. She will succeed Greg Ibach, who served in the role during the Trump administration.

Moffitt has the support of over 90 agricultural groups, including the NGFA. In a letter to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Ranking Member John Boozman, R-Ark., the groups noted: “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.”

Moffitt is the first USDA undersecretary role to be confirmed under the Biden administration. 

Meanwhile, the Senate Agriculture Committee voted Aug. 10 to advance former Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-N.M., to be USDA’s undersecretary for rural development and Robert Bonnie to be undersecretary for farm production and conservation. The committee held a hearing on the nomination of Torres Small and Bonnie on July 29.

In a July 21 letter to USDA and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders, NGFA and almost 60 other groups noted that Bonnie is “uniquely qualified” to lead USDA’s farm production and conservation mission area “due to his expertise in working lands approaches to conservation and voluntary incentive-based climate and conservation practices for farmers, ranchers, foresters, and landowners.”

There are no nominees yet for three undersecretary positions at USDA: food safety; food, nutrition and consumer services; and trade and foreign agricultural affairs. Homer Wilkes is Biden’s nominee as undersecretary for natural resources and environment, which is responsible for the Forest Service. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, who currently serves as the administrator of the Agricultural Research Service, is nominated as USDA’s undersecretary for research, education and economics.