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USDA announces temporary appointments

Karis Gutter, a senior adviser to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, will serve as acting deputy undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services.

The announcement was made by Michael Scuse, the acting Agriculture undersecretary for those services. Scuse was in the deputy undersecretary job before moving up to his current position, which happened when former Undersecretary Jim Miller returned to Capitol Hill to work for Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D.

Val Dolcini, the California Farm Service Agency state director, will serve as acting FSA administrator, Scuse said, replacing Jonathan Coppess, whose appointment as chief counsel for the Senate Agriculture Committee was announced earlier today.

In an email to employees, Coppess said that Gutter had also served as deputy administrator for field operations at FSA, where he was responsible for overseeing executive directors serving each state and Puerto Rico. He also served as a senior policy aide for Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and the House Committee on Homeland Security, specializing in agro defense policy and minority agricultural issues.

Scuse noted that Coppess will help Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., craft the next farm bill.

Dolcini has served as a senior manager for the Office of Government Relations in Accenture LLP, Scuse said, and as Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante’s policy director, where he advised on agriculture, rural development, and business issues. He also served as state executive director in California during the Clinton Administration.