Sam Clovis, Trump's pick for top scientist at the USDA, confirmed in a letter that he has no experience or credentials in either science or agriculture. According to the Washington Post, the confirmation came in a letter to the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee’s top Democrat, Debbie Stabenow (Mich.).
Clovis, who possesses a bachelor’s degree in political science, an MBA degree and a doctorate in public administration, repeatedly acknowledged his lack of background in the hard sciences when responding to Stabenow.
Clovis, who has made clear his position denying the merits of human-caused climate change, repeatedly answered, "None," to the committee's questions regarding his academic and practical experience in agriculture, including:
- Please list all graduate level courses you have taken in natural science
- Please list all membership and leadership roles you have held within any agricultural scientific, agricultural education, or agricultural economic organizations
- Please describe any awards, designations, or academic recognition you have received specifically related to agricultural science
In response to the question of his "specialized training or significant experience" in agricultural research, Clovis claimed his time teaching and working in an agricultural state have prepared him for this position:
“I bring 17 years of agriculture experience integrated into both undergraduate- and graduate-level courses throughout my teaching career as reflected in my curriculum vitae as well as the Committee’s questionnaire.” And having twice run for statewide office, he added that “one cannot be a credible candidate in that state without significant agricultural experience and knowledge.”
The Washington Post notes that the position for which Clovis has been nominated has traditionally been held by people with advanced degrees in science or medicine:
The 2008 farm bill specifies that appointees to the position should be chosen “from among distinguished scientists with specialized training or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics,” given that the official is “responsible for the coordination of the research, education, and extension activities of the Department.”
Clovis is scheduled to go before the Senate Agriculture Committee on November 9, where numerous issues are likely to be raised, not the least of which his lack of experience.
“It’s clear from his own words that Sam Clovis does not meet the basic qualifications required for the job,” Stabenow said. “This fact alone should disqualify him, not to mention his long history of politically charged comments and the recent questions surrounding his time as co-chair of the Trump campaign.”