Biden appoints Navajo environmental leader for top agriculture role in Arizona
Ginger Sykes Torres made the cut for a top state role to oversee federal funding in Arizona’s rural sector.
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The White House announced this week a slate of key appointments within the United States Department of Agriculture, and shepherd in Ginger Sykes Torres to oversee Farm Services in Arizona.
“I appreciate President Biden’s confidence in me to represent the Administration in carrying out the mission of the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency programs in Arizona,” Sykes Torres said in a statement to AL DÍA.
Sykes Torres, a member of the Navajo tribe, carries with her a potent resume in environmental consultancy and government, in addition to her experience supervising tribal relations, an experience that makes her a uniquely qualified candidate for a leadership role in the USDA.
Over the course of her professional career, Sykes Torres — a self-described “400th generation Arizonan” — dedicated her expertise to bridging complex environmental and sustainability issues.
“Here at USDA, we are grateful to have such a talented group of individuals to lead our state offices,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “I look forward to the invaluable contributions each of them will bring to our Department.”
Her presence in numerous committees have brought Sykes Torres to the forefront of environmental issues in keeping with the administration’s hope to “rebuild communities most impacted by the pandemic, the economic recovery, and climate change.”
“As an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation,” Sykes Torres said, “I am proud to serve in an administration that is committed to equity and inclusion. Reducing barriers to Farm Service Agency programs, loans, and partnership opportunities for underserved communities will be one of my top priorities,” she told AL DÍA.
The administration’s new appointments were tasked with forwarding the administration’s agenda, specifically concerning climate and racial justice, and the state directors will play pivotal roles in delivering those priorities.
In doing so, the USDA’s mission “is to equitably serve all farmers, ranchers, and agricultural partners through the delivery of effective, efficient agricultural programs,” a press release penned.
In Arizona, Sykes Torres says, the challenges are difficult but not insurmountable.
“Arizona’s agriculture industry faces many challenges stemming from drought and global economics.”
The state’s arid climate has made for a drought, characterized by a string of dry years, according to a study by Arizona State University, and farmers are struggling to keep up.
The current drought is the worst Arizona has seen in thousands of years, and the consequence has stricken its farmers, whose reservoirs are quickly drying up, resulting in an ever-lessening production of crops to keep up with demand.
Sykes Torres, in her statement, said she would be “confronting these difficulties head on and am dedicated to achieving an economically and environmentally sound future for Arizona agriculture”
“As someone who has worked on climate and environmental issues in the Western United States for nearly two decades, I am excited to carry out Secretary Vilsack’s goals for climate smart agriculture solutions that will improve the profitability and resilience of producers while simultaneously leading the way to address climate change,” she continued.
In 2022, Sykes Torres ran an unsuccessful campaign for a House District seat, but that didn’t prevent her from continuing her commitment to climate justice, and enhancing the department’s operations.
Sykes Torres begins her role immediately.