President Donald Trump has nominated Scott Hutchins to become the chief scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Hutchins was a former executive at the crop protection division of the Dow Chemical Company (DCC). He has a Ph.D. in Entomology from the Iowa State University which he received in 1987.
During Hutchins’ work at the crop protection department of DCC, he managed the formulation and production of pesticides. He ultimately became the global director for the DCC’s crop protection services division.
The position of chief scientist at the USDA has been vacant since last year when Sam Clovis was first nominated. Clovis withdrew his nomination after increasing public scrutiny forced him to admit that he had no academic credentials in either agriculture or science. Clovis was instead a political science professor and Iowa talk radio host, who claimed that his time running for office in Iowa gave him the necessary experience in agriculture. Clovis was also linked to the ongoing Russia investigation.
Hutchins is now the third individual to join the Trump administration from the DCC. In 2017, Trump nominated Ted McKinney to join his administration as undersecretary for trade. McKinney worked at Dow’s Washington office as a lobbyist for nearly 20 years before the president took him up.
DCC reportedly donated over $1 million to President Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, and the company’s headquarters is based in Michigan.
Under former President Obama’s administration, the government banned the major pesticide chlorpyrifos which is manufactured by the DCC. When Trump came to office, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reversed the former government’s plan to ban chlorpyrifos. However, Hawaii has just become the first state to ban the use of chlorpyrifos across the state.
The USDA is a federal department responsible for promoting the agriculture industry and farmers’ needs, as well as ensuring safety in farming, forestry and food. According to the USDA website, their main mission areas are farm production and conservation, food and nutrition, food safety, rural development, sustainable natural resources and environmental management, among others.