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Trump May Pick Sam Clovis, Former Business Professor As USDA Chief Scientist

15 May 2017

While Clovis has a doctorate in public administration from the University of Alabama, he has never taken a graduate course in science, ProPublica reported, which might explain why he is a notorious climate change denier who insists there is insufficient evidence proving global warming. "The undersecretary is designated as the chief scientist of the department and is tasked with the coordination of the research, education, and extensionactivities of the department".

While he initially signed on as former Texas Gov. Rick Perry's top Iowa advisor, he left in August 2015 to become the Trump campaign's national co-chair and chief policy advisor.

Congress established the post in the 1994 Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act, and during the past two presidential administrations, it has been occupied by scientists and public health professionals. He's also spoken publicly of his 25-year service in the Air Force and emphasizes his expertise in foreign policy and national security.

Instead, the Iowa native is better known for his conservative radio show "Impact With Sam Clovis" and for passionately advocating for Trump on television. He also unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate in 2014.

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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.

He already has a position at USDA - he serves as the organization's senior White House advisor.

If confirmed by the Senate, Clovis would be in charge of the USDA's efforts on climate change, which significantly increased under the Obama administration. The department's chief scientist also oversees Agriculture's economic bureaus, including the Natural Agricultural Statistics Service and the Economic Research Service.

Catherine Woteki, who earned her doctorate from Virginia Tech and held senior positions at USDA, Health and Human Services and the White House Office of Science and Technology, served as Agriculture's chief scientist from September 16, 2010 until January 20, 2017.

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"This position is the chief scientist of the Department of Agriculture", Woteki told ProPublica in an interview.

Clovis' published works do not appear to include any scientific papers. Woteki, for example, said she was asked for input on the Zika and Ebola outbreaks because of the USDA's relevant research and was frequently called upon to offer guidance on homeland security issues related to food safety.

As the undersecretary, issues related to climate change would fall under Clovis's purview. She also chaired the "Global Research Alliance to Reduce Agricultural Greenhouse Gasses", a coalition of countries around the world created to help share climate science and data. "I certainly would love to work with him as Iowa secretary of ag".

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Trump May Pick Sam Clovis, Former Business Professor As USDA Chief Scientist