Who’s Who and Who’s New at USDA?

Many leaders at USDA may be new but certainly are not unfamiliar to sorghum leaders.

With a new Administration comes new faces at USDA. From a former Secretary of Agriculture to former Members of Congress and those who have served USDA for many years, the new slate of leaders at USDA may be new but certainly are not unfamiliar to sorghum leaders.

Chosen to lead USDA as Secretary of Agriculture is Thomas Vilsack. NSP worked with Secretary Vilsack when he served in the same role under the Obama Administration. Between his appointments as Secretary, Vlisack served as president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

Robert Bonnie was nominated as the Under Secretary of Farm Production and Conservation. He currently serves as the deputy chief of staff at USDA and the senior adviser for climate and was a part of the early Biden transition team at USDA. Prior to this role, Bonnie worked with Vilsack as an adviser in the Obama Administration and was Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment. As of the publishing date, Bonnie has yet to be confirmed by the Senate.

Serving as Administrator for the Farm Service Agency (FSA) is Zach Ducheneaux. Ducheneaux was appointed on Feb. 22. A native of South Dakota, he previously served as the executive director of the Intertribal Agricultural Council, the largest, longest-standing Native American agriculture organization in the United States.

The new Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is Terry Crosby. Crosby served as Acting Chief for several months prior to his current appointment, which started May 24, but he has worked for NRCS for more than 40 years in numerous leadership and staff positions.

Jenny Lester Moffitt was confirmed by the Senate on Aug. 11 to serve as the Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. Moffitt previously served as undersecretary for the California Department of Food and Agriculture where one of her responsibilities was leading climate efforts for the department.

Xochitl Torres Small was confirmed as the Under Secretary of Rural Development on Oct. 7. Prior to this appointment, Torres Small served one term in Congress, representing New Mexico’s second district. While in the House of Representatives, she served on the House Committee on Agriculture as well as the Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees.


*Under Secretaries for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs; Research, Education and Economics; Food Safety; and Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services have yet to be nominated by President Biden.


This story originally appeared in the Fall 2021 issue of Sorghum Grower magazine.