Basil Gooden, a former state agriculture secretary and USDA's Rural Development director in Virginia since 2021, has been confirmed by the Senate to be the department's next undersecretary for rural development. 

Gooden’s nomination was cleared by voice vote following the Senate’s return to session after a two-week hiatus. In a statement Tuesday, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack called Gooden a “true asset” to USDA and said the confirmation “speaks directly to the results of his work in championing affordable housing, community advancement, and economic development.

“I have the fullest confidence that he will lead USDA’s Rural Development mission area with the energy and personal commitment he has demonstrated throughout his impressive career,” Vilsack added. “Through prior roles, Dr. Gooden has been directly involved in so much that Rural Development has accomplished in every state under the Biden-Harris Administration, from expansion of independent meat and poultry processing, to connecting rural households to critical high-speed internet through ReConnect, to supporting investments in clean water, clean energy, modernized facilities and other vital community infrastructure.”

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Vilsack also thanked Rural Development officials Roger Glendenning and Farah Ahmad for their work since the undersecretary position was vacated in July 2023 by the promotion of Xochitl Torres Small to be USDA’s Deputy Secretary.

Gooden was first nominated for the position in September and advanced through the Senate Ag Committee shortly after his November confirmation hearing.

Gooden holds a doctorate in social work and served as Virginia agriculture secretary from 2016 to 2018. He has has been a state rural development director and has worked as an extension specialist.

In addition to Gooden, the Senate also confirmed Summer Mersinger to a a new term on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

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