Davis resident Val Dolcini rises next month to head a key farm program for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Dolcini, 48, will serve as acting administrator for the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, a program that provides financial help to the nation’s farmers and ranchers through a variety of federal loan programs so they can buy farm equipment, fertilizer and seed. The agency also supports rural communities with disaster assistance, crop recovery payments and conservation efforts.
Dolicini has been the state executive director of the agency for California, a position he held since October 2009. As the state director, Dolcini ran 30 offices and managed 200 employees. The national job will give him 2,500 offices and 15,000 employees along with “all the gray hair that goes with it!” he said in an e-mail to The Enterprise.
“It’s certainly my biggest professional challenge to date,” he added. But “it’s hard to say no to a cabinet secretary and the White House when they ask you to serve the nation.”
“Val Dolcini has a solid understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing our rural communities and will help build on the Obama administration’s efforts to rebuild and revitalize rural America,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack when Dolcini was appointed as executive director for California’s Farm Service Agency.
He’ll need all that to steer a federal agency that, Dolcini said, probably will see its budget hacked.
“These are tough times for all federal agencies,” he said. “Budgets will be reduced and investments will have to be pared back. But (the agency’s) mission of serving the nation’s farmers and ranchers endures.
“We will continue to provide a vital financial safety net for farmers and ranchers, increase stewardship of America’s natural resources, while modernizing our IT infrastructure and business processes.”
Dolcini is already moving and shaking in Washington. He called the nation’s capital “an inspiring site” on his Facebook page, and posted a photo of “a special guest” who came to a meeting he also attended — first lady Michelle Obama.
His family will continue to live in Davis for at least the time being, and Dolcini will fly back as often as he can, he said after arriving Thursday night at Sacramento International Airport.
“I’m going to miss Davis,” he said, “but I’ll definitely be back and will stay involved in the civic life of our town.”
Dolcini is a fifth-generation Californian with roots in Yolo County. Prior to working as the agency director for California, he managed government relations in the western United States for Accenture LLC, a global consulting firm.
He worked in senior staff positions for California’s governor, lieutenant governor and members of the House of Representatives. He served as chairman of the Yolo Basin Foundation and chairman of the Sutter Davis Hospital Foundation board.
Dolcini replaces Jonathan Coppess, who was appointed in July 2009.
— Reach Jonathan Edwards at [email protected] or (530) 747-8052. Comment on this story at www.davisenterprise.com