Val Dolcini has been named as the new administrator of the USDA’s Farm Service Agency. He started Monday, Sept. 8.
Dolcini, who most recently oversaw the FSA’s work in California as state executive director, takes the place of FSA Administrator Juan Garcia, who said in August that he planned to retire.
A fifth-generation Californian, Dolcini has been in this position before, although just temporarily; he was acting FSA administrator in 2011 until Garcia was appointed.
Dolcini is packing up his various California farm mementos. He and Solveig Monson, his wife of 22 years, are headed to Washington, D.C., so Dolcini can begin his new appointment as administrator of the Farm Service Agency. Oscar Gonzales Jr. will be filling Dolcini’s position in the California agency.
Personally, 2014 has been a transition year for Dolcini and Monson. This past weekend they dropped their only child off at college in Southern California, and they are in the midst of packing up their Davis residence for good.
Davis has been the couple’s home for 20 years — and the Dolcini family has been in Davis for five generations — and Dolcini and Monson expect to return in the future. But with an uncertain timeline for Dolcini’s position, and so many other logistics to consider, the pair decided to sell their home here and buy in Washington. Besides, neither wanted the role of cross-country landlords, Dolcini explained.
Although there are mixed emotions about the move, Dolcini said, “We are looking forward to reconnecting to family and friends back east.” Monson has one sister in New Jersey and another in North Carolina.
And Washington is quite comfortable for the couple, who actually met in the capital when Dolcini was a paralegal and Monson was a graduate student at American University. Their cubicles sat right next to each other.
Monson’s community involvement in Davis — she is the recent Davis High School Grad Night chairperson and a past Davis Little League president, among other positions — will prepare her to become part of her new community. And she has some good professional leads to explore once they get settled in Washington.
Professionally for Dolcini, the new endeavor begins as soon as Tuesday, when he starts his nine-day trek through 15 states, visiting as many FSA county offices as he can along the way. He will listen to the farmers and ranchers — as well as colleagues — across the country “so I can better represent them when I get to Washington.”
While executive director of California’s FSA, Dolcini made it a point to meet with the people he represents, determining what the agency can do to help them. He plans to do the same in his new position, where he will oversee 2,100 FSA offices around the country, with roughly 10,000 employees reporting to him.
On this trip, Dolcini also looks forward to seeing big agricultural production operations in the Midwest — like Nebraska and Kansas; visiting small farms in the Southeast, such as in Arkansas, Mississippi and the Carolinas; and checking in on family farms all across the country.
Dolcini began his cross-country journey and began to log in on his Facebook page each evening. It was fascinating to follow his adventures through each of his daily posts. By Day 8 he had made it to Tennessee, spending the night in Nashville. Part of his evening’s post said;
“…Then to Shiloh National Military Park. Beautiful, heavily wooded forests and fields in southwestern TN near a small log church called Shiloh. I was walking through the cemetery and soon found myself in a deep and rather profound conversation with a young park ranger who was also an Iraq combat veteran. We talked about how the Confederate dead were buried, about how he raised the flag at dawn everyday over the mists of the Tennessee River, and about the power and mystery of ancient battlefields and national cemeteries. Stay strong my friend. On to Nashville for the night. A little less than 600 miles to DC and a Thursday rendezvous with Solveig.”
Day 9 Mr. Dolcini paid two Tennessee FSA Offices a visit. First he met Wilson County…
and then he met Smith County.
He says in his journey post;
“Day 9. Nashville to Abingdon, VA. 348 miles. A good day’s driving through central TN into southwest Virginia. Two more USDA offices (Lebanon and Smithville TN). Stopped at a large TVA hydro dam. These days, we don’t often stop and consider how much this New Deal era public investment revolutionized life in the South — bringing electricity to rural America for the first time. Drove through the Great Smoky Mtns then skirted the Appalachian Mtns. One more day on the road!”
Upon arriving at his final destination of our nation’s capital, Mr. Dolcini had this to say;
“Pulled in to DC late Thursday. 3900 miles and 20+ USDA offices in nine days! What a wonderful, beautiful, and BIG country!”
Below are two videos of Mr. Val Dolcini, as SED of CA, speaking about the new farm bill.