Jenny Lester Moffitt is one step closer to being the newest undersecretary at the Department of Agriculture. 

The Senate Ag Committee advanced her nomination to be USDA’s undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Monday in a voice vote.

The committee’s move sends Moffitt’s nomination to the Senate floor. After a brief business meeting to advance her nomination, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the committee's chair, said "move (Moffit's nomination) as fast as we can ... I think she’ll be a terrific addition."

One other USDA nomination, Janie Simms Hipp to be the next general counsel, is currently awaiting floor action after being advanced by the committee in June. Stabenow, D-Mich., and Arkansas Republican John Boozman, the committee's ranking member, both told reporters Monday a hold has been placed on Hipp's nomination. 

"We're don't know if it's actually someone with concerns specifically about her or if it's some other issue," Stabenow said, noting she doesn't know who has the hold in place. 

Moffitt was first nominated for the position in April. She currently serves as undersecretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the number-two role in the state’s department. She is also an organic walnut farmer and has previous experience with American Farmland Trust as well as the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.

If confirmed, Moffitt would head up the wing of USDA charged with overseeing the Agricultural Marketing Service and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. AMS’ jurisdiction includes USDA’s organic programs and other value-added efforts; APHIS oversees a host of issues ranging from biotechnology to import and export policies.

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When she was nominated this spring, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said Moffitt was nominated to “join a mission area that is focused on facilitating the domestic and international marketing of U.S. agricultural products, ensuring the health and care of animals and plants, and setting national and international standards — all tasks that she is well suited to take on."

Additional action is expected on two other nominees later this week; Robert Bonnie, USDA’s nominee to head up the Farm Production and Conservation mission area, and Xochitl Torres Small, the pick to lead Rural Development, have a joint confirmation hearing before the Senate Ag Committee on Thursday. Homer Wilkes has also been nominated to lead USDA’s Natural Resources and Environment mission area, but no date has been set for his confirmation hearing.

Ben Nuelle contributed to this report.

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