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USDA Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small Continues College Tour with Visit to University of Nevada, Reno

Teja Dusanapudi
Carson City
Release Date

The Deputy’s visit of UNR underscores the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to Land-Grant Institutions

RENO, Nev., Apr. 18, 2024 – U.S. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small visited the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) on Thursday, April 18, to highlight the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) ongoing support for agricultural research and education at UNR and met with students to discuss potential career opportunities available for the next generation of farmers, foresters, conservationists, and entrepreneurs.

“Thanks to historic funding secured by President Biden, USDA is creating new opportunities for the next generation of farmers, foresters, researchers, and entrepreneurs in Nevada,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small. “These investments will bring economic opportunity back to rural communities, better position students to build a more resilient food system and give them the chance to succeed in the communities they love.”

The Deputy’s visit included a tour of the Desert Farming Initiative (DFI) at UNR’s Nevada Agricultural Experiment Station, which supports cutting edge research into climate-smart farming practices in desert landscapes and collaborates with rural and Tribal communities across the state and region. While on campus, the Deputy Secretary also met with UNR President Brian Sandoval and UNR students.

During her college tour, Deputy Secretary Torres Small is visiting college campuses across the country to underscore how colleges and universities are working with USDA to advance rural prosperity, climate-smart practices, competition, and sustainability. Deputy Secretary Torres Small is also highlighting how USDA is making a difference on college campuses, from new funding for education and training to cutting edge research to economic development to build a food and agriculture food system.

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) provided more than $5 billion in support to land-grant university campuses since fiscal year 2021, offering student-centered scholarships to recruit, mentor, and train undergraduate students for jobs in food and agricultural sciences and related fields. NIFA has invested over $7 million competitive dollars in UNR during the Biden-Harris Administration, with over $12 million capacity-building dollars invested during the same period. Projects include:


  • Native Climate: Strengthening the Role of Climate Hubs in Indian Country – ($1.5M): This investment will enable the Nevada System of Higher Education to support a collaborative team of researchers, Tribal Extension educators, and Climate Hub leaders to expand USDA Climate Hub capacity and serve as a “climate clearinghouse” of tools and technologies to support climate resilience planning and actions by tribal agricultural producers in the Intermountain West (Northern Rockies and Great Plains, Great Basin, and Southwest).
  • Understanding Climate Driven Changes in Western Dy Forests – ($300k): NIFA provided support to the University of Nevada at Reno to design demographic models to assist in the prediction of forest changes using data on tree survival, reproduction, and growth rates. This seed grant project will develop new techniques to quantify tree survival, reproduction, and growth at management relevant large scales using aerial photography.
  • The Effects of Broadband Internet on Rural Health Outcomes – ($650k): In 2023, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities (AERC) Social Implications of Food and Agricultural Technologies awarded $650k for UNR to explore how broadband access can be utilized to alleviate rural health disparities and determine the relative importance of supply and demand constraints for broadband services.

Rural Development (RD) is one of several agencies under the USDA umbrella that offer career opportunities to build communities on and off the farm. RD’s investments in rural America include grant programs that can make farms and businesses more productive and sustainable (Value-Added Producer Grants and the Rural Energy for America Program). To date, Nevada RD has invested over $348.2 million since 2021 to support rural housing, infrastructure, and business development in communities across the state.

“We’re proud to welcome Agriculture Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small back to Nevada,” said USDA RD Nevada State Director Lucas Ingvoldstad. “This visit is yet another demonstration of the Biden-Harris Administration’s support for rural Nevada. As an alumnus of UNR myself, I know firsthand the importance of local education in producing students that work towards rural Nevada’s betterment. Our programs have long supported the University’s agricultural research and operations, and we look forward to its next wave of innovators and changemakers and the positive outcomes they bring to the Silver State.”

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety, and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

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