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USDA announces personnel appointments

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the following personnel appointments at the political level:

Callie Varner, who has served as legislative counsel for Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Calif., will join USDA on Tuesday as a senior legislative assistant in the Office of Congressional Relations.

Varner worked on all aspects of agricultural legislation for Cardoza, including his work as chairman of the House Agriculture Horticulture and Organic Agriculture Subcommittee and ranking member of the Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Subcommittee. Varner also worked for Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-Fla., in 2007,

She received a law degree from Tulane Law School and a bachelor of arts degree in history and government from Western Kentucky University.

Fred Pfaeffle, who has been serving as deputy assistant secretary for civil rights, is returning to the Office of the General Counsel as principal deputy general counsel.

Pfaeffle joined USDA in 2010 as the senior counselor to the general counsel, and has worked on the effort to establish an administrative claims process to resolve long-standing discrimination claims by women and Hispanic farmers and ranchers, and on the settlement of the class-action civil rights suits filed by African-Americans and Native-Americans, USDA said in a news release.

Before joining USDA, Praeffle was principal deputy county counsel in the Office of the Los Angeles County Counsel, where he was responsible for the areas of solid waste, hazardous waste and water. He also worked for a California law firm working on real estate, land use, and environmental law matters.

Born in Mexico City to Nicaraguan parents, he moved to Miami for high school. He obtained a bachelor of business administration degree in accounting from Florida International University in 1984, and practiced as senior auditor performing certified public audits with an international accounting and auditing firm until entering law school. He is a 1989 graduate of the University of Southern California Law School, and is a member of the California bar.

Lisa Pino will replace Pfaeffle as acting deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Civil Rights. Since 2009, Pino has been deputy administrator of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program at the Food and Nutrition Service.

Chuck Lippstreu has joined the Office of Communications as speechwriter. Lippstreu has worked in the Office of the Administrator of the Farm Service Agency.

Before joining USDA, he served as assistant to the CEO of the Arbor Day Foundation in Lincoln, Neb., and worked on the technology programs team at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs in Washington, D.C.

He is from Lincoln, Neb., and is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.