Sam Clovis is not a scientist. Trump's absurd nomination for the top scientist post at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is a former radio talk show host with a history of racist and homophobic commentary — and zero scientific or agricultural background or credentials. Zero.
The Senate will consider whether to confirm Clovis when they reconvene after Labor Day — and efforts to block the absurd nomination are gaining ground. This week, Senators Schumer (D-NY) and Schatz (D-HI) called on Trump to withdraw this "wildly unqualified" nominee.
The senators also linked the choice of someone with views as "backwards" as Clovis to the hatred on display at the white supremicist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last week. They warned that Trump's continued promotion of Clovis sends a "clear as day message that this Administration continues to tolerate hate."
An insult to farm communities
Choosing Clovis may also be illegal. As our friends at the Union of Concerned Scientists note, the Farm Bill explicitly requires that the top USDA scientist post be filled by an actual scientist.
Now more than ever, this matters.
Farmers are facing superweeds and devastating damage from herbicide drift. They are on the frontlines of the droughts, flooding and extreme weather events caused by climate change. Mountains of research points to increasing threats from changing weather patterns; Clovis calls all of this "junk science." Helping farmers build healthy soil and on-farm resilience should be a national priority, and top of the "to do" list at USDA.
But it would take an actual scientist to see and understand the importance of any of this, and guide investments to support the wellbeing and livehilhoods of farmers and rural communities (the position oversees a multi-billion dollar portfolio).
This nomination must either be withdrawn or blocked. Choosing Clovis fans hatred and division, is likely illegal and is an insult to farm communities. Tell your senators to just say no.