The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

USDA staff changes at FSA, FSIS, Congressional Relations

In the latest of a series of personnel changes at the Agriculture Department, Acting Agriculture Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse announced today that Val Dolcini, acting administrator of the Farm Service Agency, is leaving and that Bruce Nelson, the state executive director in Montana, will become acting administrator.

Dolcini is returning to his regular role as state FSA executive director in California.

The permanent job of FSA administrator has been open since Jonathan Coppess left to join the Senate Agriculture Committee staff. Scuse is also acting as undersecretary because Jim Miller left to join the Senate Budget Committee staff.

Nelson had served as Montana state executive director from 1993 to 2000 during the Clinton administration, Scuse noted in a memo to his staff. Nelson was awarded the Administrator’s Distinguished Service Award during that period, received the USDA Secretary Honor Award in 1995, and also received the national award from the Inter Tribal Agriculture Council in 2000, Scuse said.

Nelson also served as chief of state to Montana Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

He worked for many summers on a family farm, and holds an executive role at Triangle N Farms, Inc. He has a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Montana.

Earlier, USDA announced that Brian Ronholm, a former aide to then-House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., had been named deputy undersecretary for food safety.

Ronholm has worked on a wide range of agricultural issues including food safety, nutrition and consumer protection and public health, the USDA said, and “will be a great asset” in the agency's mission to improve public health.

USDA also announced that Ashlee Jonhson, a former Senate Agriculture Committee professional staff member, had joined the agency’s Office of Congressional Relations as a legislative analyst.

Johnson had also worked for Rep. Mike Ross, D-Arkansas, and is a graduate of the University of Arkansas.