Sam Clovis’s Withdrawal from USDA Chief Scientist Post Victory for Farmers, Consumers and Fact-Based Governance

Statement by Ricardo Salvador, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Nov 2, 2017

WASHINGTON (November 2, 2017)— Sam Clovis—President Donald Trump's nominee to be the Department of Agriculture's chief scientist and undersecretary for research, education and economists—withdrew himself from consideration today. A failed Senate candidate, former talk radio host, and Trump campaign co-chair from Iowa, Clovis had been continuously under fire since his nomination in July for his lack of scientific qualifications, embrace of conspiracy theories, and racist and homophobic views. More than 3,100 scientists across the country sent a letter earlier this week calling on the Senate Agriculture Committee to reject his nomination, just as it came to light that Clovis was also embroiled in the FBI’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the presidential election.

The following is a statement by Ricardo Salvador, senior scientist and director of the Food and Environment Program at UCS. 

“Emerging evidence of his role in Trump campaign Russia dealings was deeply troubling, but merely the last straw. Even before this week’s explosive revelations, Sam Clovis was facing a very hard road to confirmation. As a non-scientist, he failed to meet the most basic legal qualifications to serve as the chief scientist at the USDA. His rejection of mainstream climate science—critical to the future of agriculture and the livelihood of farmers—and his history of racist and homophobic comments further disqualified him.

“For half a year, the Trump administration has left vacant one of the most important government posts for farmers, researchers, rural communities and consumers. Scientific leadership from the USDA and other federal agencies is needed to solve the nation’s most challenging scientific problems, and Mr. Clovis lacks both the skillset and the judgment needed to manage the responsible investment of billions of taxpayer dollars in a safe, sustainable, productive food system.

“Now it’s time to move on. After months of needless delay, the White House and Senate must now select and confirm a candidate with the appropriate background, training and judgment for the job. The nation’s farmers, ranchers, and consumers deserve no less.”