Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has named Val Dolcini the new administrator of the Farm Service Agency, the division of USDA that distributes farm subsidies and disaster payments.
Dolcini, who has been the California state executive director since 2009, succeeds Juan Garcia, who retired. It will be Dolcini’s responsibility to implement the 2014 farm bill’s new commodity program that involves individual farmers’ choice between the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) programs and coordinating their interaction with the crop insurance program. He will also be in charge of the Agriculture Department’s disaster programs.
Vilsack announced Dolcini’s appointment in a memo to staff Aug. 22, and it is on a permanent rather than acting basis, a spokesman said. The appointment, which does not require Senate confirmation, will take effect on Sept. 8.
Vilsack also said that in California, Dolcini will be succeeded by Oscar Gonzales Jr., who has been serving as Vilsack’s deputy chief of staff.
Dolcini joined the Obama administration from the private sector, but he also served as California FSA executive director for two years during the Clinton administration. He served as FSA acting administrator for three months in 2011.
From 2005 until he joined the Obama administration, Dolcini managed all government relations in the western United States for Accenture LLP. Before then, he served as the policy director for California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, a Democrat. His responsibilities for Bustamante included agriculture, rural development, and business issues.
From October 2003 to October 2004, Dolcini was vice president of the California constituent relations office for ACS State and Local Solutions.
He has served in staff positions for California members of the House of Representatives.
Dolcini is a fifth-generation Californian with deep roots in Yolo County. He has also served as chairman of the Yolo Basin Foundation and as the chairman of the Sutter Davis Hospital Foundation Board.
He received a bachelor of arts degree from San Francisco State University in 1985 and a law degree from Golden Gate University in 1993.
Gonzales served as deputy assistant secretary for administration at USDA before going to work as Vilsack’s deputy chief of staff.
He joined USDA in June 2009 as the deputy director of intergovernmental relations and later became acting deputy assistant secretary for congressional relations.
Gonzales served as deputy appointment secretary to former California Gov. Gray Davis, and also worked as a field representative to former California Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa.
His organizing work began in the aftermath of the Los Angeles riots in 1992 and at the time Clinton launched the AmeriCorps program. During this time, he worked for the Constitutional Rights Foundation and the Corporation for National Service as a program and training officer.
Before joining the Obama administration, Gonzales served as associate director of the United Farm Workers Foundation, where he helped advance the rights of farm workers and the need for immigration reform. He also served as the California director for the National Hispanic Environmental Council, where he worked on federal legislation to protect California’s wilderness and wild rivers systems.
Gonzales was born and raised in East Los Angeles, Calif. He earned an associate of arts degree from East Los Angeles College and went on to earn a bachelor of arts in political science at the University of California, San Diego.