Xochitl Torres Small

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Xochitl Torres Small
15th United States Deputy Secretary of Agriculture
Assumed office
July 17, 2023
PresidentJoe Biden
SecretaryTom Vilsack
Preceded byJewel H. Bronaugh
Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development
In office
October 13, 2021 – July 17, 2023
PresidentJoe Biden
Preceded byLisa Mensah
Succeeded byTBD
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Mexico's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 2019 – January 3, 2021
Preceded bySteve Pearce
Succeeded byYvette Herrell
Personal details
Xochitl Liana Torres

(1984-11-15) November 15, 1984 (age 39)
Portland, Oregon, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseNathan Small
EducationGeorgetown University (BS)
University of New Mexico (JD)

Xochitl Liana Torres Small (first name pronounced /ˈsl/ SOH-cheel; born November 15, 1984) is an American attorney and politician who is the 15th and current United States deputy secretary of agriculture, acting as "chief operating officer" for the department. She was nominated by President Joe Biden in February 2023, and was confirmed by the senate on July 11.[1][2]

She was a U.S. representative for New Mexico's 2nd congressional district from 2019 to 2021 and had previously served as the Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development, from 2021 to 2023.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Xochitl Liana Torres was born on November 15, 1984, in Portland, Oregon, to Marcos and Cynthia "Cynta" Torres.[4] Her parents were educators. Torres Small was raised in Las Cruces, New Mexico.[5][6] She is a third-generation Mexican American.[7]

Torres graduated from Mayfield High School in absentia while she earned her International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma from Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa in Mbabane, Eswatini. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service degree from Georgetown University, and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law.[8][5][9]

Early career[edit]

Torres Small worked as a field representative for U.S. Senator Tom Udall from 2009 to 2012. She served as a federal law clerk in the New Mexico District from 2015 to 2016.[5] She worked as a water attorney with the Kemp Smith law firm.[10]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

2018 election[edit]

In the 2018 elections, Torres Small ran as a Democrat for the open United States House of Representatives seat in New Mexico's 2nd congressional district. The Republican incumbent, Steve Pearce, declined to run for reelection in order to run for governor of New Mexico.[11] Torres Small defeated Madeline Hildebrandt in the Democratic Party primary election and Republican state Representative Yvette Herrell in the general election.[12][13] She ran as a moderate Democrat.[14]

The results were close on election night, with Herrell in the lead at the end of the night; some New Mexico media organizations projected that she would win. The next day, more ballots were counted, narrowing Herrell's lead, and media organizations rescinded their projections.[14] On November 7, after all absentee ballots were counted, the New Mexico Secretary of State declared Torres Small the winner.[15][16]


In her first week in office, Torres Small and other members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) traveled to the United States Border Patrol station at Alamogordo, New Mexico, where Felipe Gómez Alonzo, an eight-year-old Guatemalan immigrant, died in custody.[17]

In the 2020 presidential election, Torres Small said she would vote for Joe Biden despite disagreeing with some of his energy policy stances.[18]

GovTrack reports that during her two years in Congress, Torres Small was the primary sponsor of three bills that became law, got her bills out of committee the tenth-most often of House freshmen and missed approximately 0.4% of House votes.[19]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

2020 election[edit]

Herrell ran again in 2020. During a debate in the campaign, she claimed to be "unashamedly pro-God, pro-life, pro-gun, pro-business and pro-family", while Torres Small touted her votes on oil and gas that bucked the Democratic Party's positions.[18] OpenSecrets reports that Torres Small outspent Herrell by over $5 million.[24]

Republicans targeted the seat as a pickup opportunity. Despite polling showing a dead heat, Herrell won by over 7%.[25][26][27]

U.S. Department of Agriculture[edit]

On June 18, 2021, it was announced that President Joe Biden would nominate Torres Small as Under Secretary for Rural Development at the United States Department of Agriculture.[28][29] She was confirmed by voice vote on October 7, 2021.[30]

On February 15, 2023, President Biden announced his intent to nominate Torres Small for United States deputy secretary of agriculture,[31] and following a nomination hearing on May 10, she was confirmed on July 11 in a 84–8 vote.[1][2] She was sworn into office on July 17, 2023.[32]

Electoral history[edit]

Democratic primary results
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Xochitl Torres Small 25,193 72.62
Democratic Madeline Hildebrandt 9,500 27.38
Total votes 34,693 100.00
New Mexico's 2nd congressional district, 2018
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Xochitl Torres Small 101,489 50.9
Republican Yvette Herrell 97,767 49.1
Total votes 199,256 100.0
Democratic gain from Republican
New Mexico's 2nd congressional district election, 2020
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Yvette Herrell 142,169 53.75
Democratic Xochitl Torres Small (incumbent) 122,314 46.25
Total votes 264,483 100.0
Republican gain from Democratic

Personal life[edit]

In 2016, Torres Small's husband, Nathan Small, was elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives, representing the 36th district.[11] He ran for reelection in 2018, winning with 59.9% of the vote.[33][34] She is a Lutheran.[35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on the Confirmation of Xochitl Torres Small as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture". www.usda.gov. Retrieved July 13, 2023.
  2. ^ a b "Senate confirms Torres Small as deputy secretary at USDA". Roll Call. July 11, 2023. Retrieved July 13, 2023.
  3. ^ "Statement by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on the Confirmation of Representative Xochitl Torres Small to Serve as Under Secretary for Rural Development". U.S. Department of Agriculture. October 12, 2021. Retrieved January 4, 2022.
  4. ^ "Candidate Conversation - Xochitl Torres-Small (D)". Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. April 20, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c Angela Kocherga (October 2, 2018). "Torres Small banks on 'strong independent streak' in district". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  6. ^ Missing teacher is back home, Albuquerque Journal, October 27, 2008. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  7. ^ Montoya-Galvez, Camilo (November 27, 2018). "Diverse freshman class will bolster record number of Latinos in Congress". CBS News. Retrieved April 19, 2023.
  8. ^ "Inspired Alumna Runs for Office in New Mexico". UWC. November 7, 2018.
  9. ^ Bush, Mike (May 27, 2014). "UNM team had role in court ruling". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  10. ^ Sanchez, Derek (February 13, 2018). "UNM School of Law Alumna Seeks Big Impact on New Mexico Politics". UNM School of Law News. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Las Cruces water attorney to seek seat being vacated by Pearce". Lcsun-news.com. January 17, 2018. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  12. ^ Bowman, Bridget (June 5, 2018). "Torres Small, Herrell to Battle for New Mexico Open Seat". Roll Call. Rollcall.com. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  13. ^ "Torres Small, Herrell to face off for congressional seat in GOP stronghold | Albuquerque Journal". Abqjournal.com. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  14. ^ a b "Republican Who Lost US House Race Seeks to Impound Ballots".
  15. ^ Panas, Joshua (November 7, 2018). "Secretary of state declares Torres Small winner of 2nd Congressional District race". KOB-TV. Archived from the original on November 8, 2018.
  16. ^ Kocherga, Angela (November 7, 2018). "Torres Small is apparent winner in 2nd District". Albuquerque Journal. Archived from the original on November 16, 2018.
  17. ^ "US delegation seeks more details on Guatemalan boy's death". sanluisobispo. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  18. ^ a b Contreras, Russell (September 28, 2020). "Xochitl Torres Small, Yvette Herrell meet in 1st debate in close House race in New Mexico". Las Cruces Sun-News. Associated Press. Archived from the original on January 18, 2021. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  19. ^ "Rep. Xochitl Torres Small's 2020 Report Card". GovTrack. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  20. ^ "BLUE DOG COALITION ANNOUNCES LEADERSHIP, NEW MEMBERS FOR THE 116TH CONGRESS". Blue Dog Coalition. November 27, 2018. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  21. ^ "The Women's Caucus". Women's Congressional Policy Institute. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  22. ^ "Chairman Joaquin Castro Welcomes Newest Members to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus". Congressman Joaquin Castro. January 8, 2019. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  23. ^ "New Democrat Coalition Inducts 30 Members-Elect and Elects New Leadership". New Democrat Coalition. November 30, 2018. Archived from the original on February 3, 2019. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  24. ^ "New Mexico District 02 2020 Race - Summary Data". OpenSecrets.org. Archived from the original on May 10, 2021. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  25. ^ Edmondson, Catie (November 4, 2020). "Yvette Herrell Ousts Xochitl Torres Small From New Mexico House Seat". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on May 10, 2021. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  26. ^ "Election 2020 - New Mexico 2nd District - Herrell vs. Torres Small". RealClearPolitics. Archived from the original on January 26, 2021. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  27. ^ "New Mexico Election Results: Second Congressional District". The New York Times. March 6, 2021. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on April 15, 2021. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  28. ^ "Former Rep. Xochitl Torres Small nominated for role in Biden administration". KOB. June 18, 2021. Retrieved June 19, 2021.
  29. ^ "President Biden Announces Six Key Administration Nominations". The White House. June 18, 2021. Retrieved June 18, 2021.
  30. ^ "PN745 — Xochitl Torres Small — Department of Agriculture". Congress.gov. October 7, 2021. Retrieved January 4, 2022.
  31. ^ "President Biden Announces Xochitl Torres Small as Nominee for Deputy Secretary of Agriculture" (Press release). The White House. February 15, 2023. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  32. ^ "USDA: Congratulations Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small". US Forest Service. July 13, 2023. Retrieved July 14, 2023.
  33. ^ "Rep. Nathan Small announces re-election bid for District 36". Las Cruces Sun-News. March 9, 2018. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  34. ^ Jacqueline Devine (November 6, 2018). "Democrats sweep house races, New Mexico". Las Cruces Sun News. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  35. ^ Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. "Religious affiliation of members of 116th Congress" (PDF). pewforum.org. p. 8. Retrieved April 2, 2019.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Mexico's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Lisa Mensah
Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development
Preceded by United States Deputy Secretary of Agriculture
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Representative Order of precedence of the United States
as Former US Representative
Succeeded byas Former US Representative