Val Dolcini, former Administrator of the USDA Farm Service Agency, takes on a new role June 1 as President and CEO of the Pollinator Partnership, the world’s largest non-profit dealing exclusively with with pollinator issues.
Dolcini, in a telephone interview with Farm Press, said he expects to tap into his FSA experience, especially in conservation programs, to spread the message about pollinators’ contributions to agriculture and society at large.
“I want agriculture to be a part of the conversation,” Dolcini said. “I want to enhance the Pollinator Partnership presence in Washington. But, as was the case with FSA, I will travel wherever I need to to get the message out.”
Dolcini is described as “an administrator with a rich background as an experienced and effective executive with significant public and private sector experience. As USDA-FSA administrator, Dolcini oversaw delivery of farm bill programs, extended credit to farmers and ranchers, and championed important conservation programs. Conservation efforts included promoting tools designed to increase the quality and amount of pollinator habitat and forage.
“Val has extensive experience at all levels of government and has worked with national agricultural organizations, NGOs, media, academia, and Congress throughout his career,” according to a release announcing his appointment.
Dolcini takes over from Laurie Davies Adams, who led the Pollinator Partnership for 21 years. “I am thrilled to have Val Dolcini at the helm of the Pollinator Partnership,” Adams said. “He brings significant skills in building our organization and in creating real and lasting progress for the pollinators of the world.”
Steve Shestag, director of environment at the Boeing Company and Pollinator Partnership Board chair, said, “Val’s leadership and experience are unparalleled and provide a clear focus on both the environment and agriculture, two essential areas of pollinator conservation.”
Dolcini said he is excited about the opportunity . “Going forward, it is critically important to redouble our efforts to develop new and deeper public partnerships for the benefit of pollinators and to more fully engage our fellow citizens in order to encourage greater protection to all pollinators. There are significant challenges, but working together in a spirit of goodwill, they are eminently achievable.”
He expects challenges with an administration that appears less in tune with conservation measures. “This will be a more challenging environment,” he said. “But the President’s budget (which would make severe cuts to conservation programs) has to get through Congress.” He said many of those deep cuts—to conservation as well as nutrition—likely will not pass.
“But we have to make a strong case for pollinator protection programs. We have demonstrations of a lot of successes,” he said, including programs with the Department of Transportation. “We see real interest in supporting pollinators.” He also noted a need for a better understanding of the role of neonicotinoids and other possible causes of colony collapse. “We need to emphasize the importance of the honeybee industry.” He mentioned the California almond industry’s dependence on bees for pollination.
Dolcini said industry efforts to research pollinator protection efforts are encouraging. “We need to be guided by the science,” he added. “It’s important. When I traveled for FSA I was sometimes surprised at the pollinator plots in remote areas of the country.” He says people realize that those efforts not only benefit the bees, butterflies, bats and other pollinators but their own gardens and flower beds.
Dolcini says the Pollinator Partnership offers a new opportunity to serve.
In other changes at the Pollinator Partnership, James E. Sherman will be elevated to Chief Operating Officer, effective June 1, and will be based in the San Francisco office.
Pollinator Partnership policies are based on science and are set by the board of directors—never influenced by any donors. For more information check www.pollinator.com .