Thursday, July 20, 2017

Pick for USDA research undersecretary has no science background, but strong Trump credentials

Samuel Clovis
President Trump has announced a list of nominations for key administration posts; one may prove controversial, Jerry Hagstrom reports for The Progressive Farmer. Former Trump campaign co-chair and rural Kansas native Samuel Clovis was nominated July 19 to be undersecretary for research, education and economics.

The controversy stems from Clovis' lack of scientific expertise, since the position he has been nominated for is expected to be the Agriculture Department's chief scientist. Under both Democratic and Republican administrations, each of the last five people to hold the job have had a master's degree and doctorate in natural sciences, so Consumers Union and the Union of Concerned Scientists weighed in against the nomination, Hagstrom reports. UCS noted that federal law requires the nominee to come "from among distinguished scientists with specialized training or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics."

Clovis was an economics professor at United Methodist Church-affiliated Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. He "holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the U.S. Air Force Academy, a master’s in business administration from Golden Gate University in San Francisco and a doctorate in public administration from the University of Alabama," Hagstrom reports. He has other credentials: chief ag-policy adviser and a national co-chair of the Trump campaign, during which he was "in an operation hoping to obtain Hillary Clinton emails from hackers," The Wall Street Journal reported. Now he is Trump's insider at USDA, as senior White House adviser to Secretary Sonny Perdue, who said Clovis "has become a trusted adviser and steady hand. . . . He looks at every problem with a critical eye, relying on sound science and data, and will be the facilitator and integrator we need."

A graduate of both Army and Air Force war colleges, Clovis served 25 years in the Air Force as a command pilot and the inspector general of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the United States Space Command

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