Trump Reported to Pick Nonscientist for Top Ag Science Job

May 15, 2017

Sam Clovis, a former Trump campaign co-chair with no science background, is reportedly the pick to lead the U.S. Agriculture Department's research section, according to reports from agriculture trade press and the investigative news site ProPublica.

Clovis, a professor of economics at Morningside College, a small private institution in Iowa, is being considered to fill the post of undersecretary for research, economics and education, according to the reports. The research section's chief oversees work on areas from climate change to nutrition, ProPublica notes. Clovis was perhaps best known previously for his role in sketching out the Trump campaign's higher ed platform during the GOP presidential primaries.

He's published little as an academic and is more accomplished as a conservative radio host in his home state. After Trump's election, Clovis oversaw the Department of Agriculture for the new administration's transition team.

He is also an open skeptic of the established scientific consensus on climate change and has said the administration's priority in agricultural policy will be boosting trade, not addressing the impacts of climate change. That's a stark contrast from the position of the previous head of USDA's research section under the Obama administration. Catherine Woteki, ProPublica noted, launched "climate hubs" across the country to find local solutions to the effects of climate change. She also holds a doctorate in human nutrition and served as dean of the school of agriculture at Iowa State University, among other science-oriented roles in government and industry.

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