Despite backlash from some sectors of the public, a host of agriculture associations and officials — 22 in all — have made clear their support for President Donald Trump’s nomination of Sam Clovis as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics with the USDA.
Protests from the scientific community have centered around the fact that Clovis has a PhD in public administration, not science. They say that in this millennium, the nod for the under secretary position has gone to those with advanced degrees in hard sciences. Clovis has also questioned climate change, a hot-button issue that has dogged Trump nominees for a variety of posts.
But 22 agricultural associations this week sent a group letter to Congress saying that the USDA already has plenty of scientists in its ranks and that the under secretary — technically the nation’s top scientist in the same way the President is Commander-in-Chief of military forces — does not need another one to lead the charge.
The letter specifically addressed Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, and the committee’s ranking member, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) who has expressed concerns about Clovis’ backgroun.
The letter said, in part :
“We are strong proponents of our premier agriculture research and education system in this country. It is the backbone for the productivity on our farms and ranches across the country. We believe Dr. Clovis shares this passion…
“Some have suggested that Dr. Clovis is not qualified for this position due to his lack of hands-on science and research experience. We do not share this point of view. The U.S. Department of Agriculture already employs some of the finest and most dedicated scientists in the world. They do not need a peer. They need someone to champion their work before the administration, the Congress, and all consumers around the world.
“Dr. Clovis is dedicated to preserving and improving this remarkable system. Most importantly, he is dedicated to making sure that the world’s best-available science is being used by all government agencies to determine appropriate regulatory and policy decisions.”
The letter was signed by: the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, National Barley Growers Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Grange, National Milk Producers Federation, National Pork Producers Council, National Potato Council, National Sorghum Producers, National Sunflower Association, Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, Southwest Council of Agri-Business, United Egg Producers, USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, U.S. Apple Association, USA Rice Federation, U.S. Canola Association, U.S. Dry Bean Association, and the Western Growers Association.