If confirmed by Senate, Scott Hutchins would lead a sprawling U.S. Department of Agriculture research program that includes efforts to improve citrus crops.

Scott Bauer/USDA/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Trump picks entomologist to lead U.S. farm research programs

Originally published by E&E News

An entomologist with a corporate background is President Donald Trump's pick to head research programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Trump intends to nominate Scott Hutchins, global leader of integrated field sciences for Corteva Agriscience, for undersecretary of Agriculture for research, education and economics, the White House said yesterday.

The position oversees the Agricultural Research Service, among other responsibilities, and has attracted congressional attention since Sam Clovis, a top Trump political operative, withdrew last year (Greenwire, 18 December, 2017).

In picking Hutchins, 59, of Indiana, the administration responded to complaints that Clovis didn't have a background in science, which Congress has required for the position since the 2012 farm bill. Hutchins has a doctoral degree in entomology from Iowa State University, where his work focused on the effect of insect-induced injury on alfalfa.

His work at Corteva—the newly created agricultural division of DowDuPont Inc.—focuses on chemical solutions to pest management. He is also a former president of the Entomological Society of America, serving in that role in parts of 2006 and 2007, a spokesman there said.

Hutchins is also an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.

He held a fellowship at the society in 2009. In a biography posted on the society's website, the organization said he was global leader of crop protection research and development for Dow AgroSciences, having started work at the company in 1987.

At Dow, Hutchins held titles such as human resources manager and director of formulation development. He worked in regional research and development management and global development of insect management products. Hutchins has worked with integrated pest management, a mix of chemical and nonchemical techniques, according to the society.

"His research and leadership in entomology has provided a revolutionary vision and passion for insect management 'breakthrough' technologies in the industry, which have had a profound impact on insect management on a global scale," the society said in the posted biography.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue praised the announcement in a statement: "His extensive background in research and commitment to sound science and data make him exceptionally qualified for this post, and I am eager to have Dr. Hutchins join the team."

The post is subject to Senate confirmation. Perdue highlighted other pending nominations in his statement, including four USDA positions awaiting Agriculture Committee consideration and one—Stephen Vaden for USDA general counsel—awaiting confirmation in the full Senate.

The Entomological Society's president, Michael Parrella, dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Idaho in Moscow, cheered the announcement.

In a statement, Parrella said, "Dr. Scott Hutchins is an ideal candidate for the role of USDA undersecretary for research, education, and economics. His credentials in both science and leadership are hard to match, and he knows first-hand the value of research, government, and industry working together to support agriculture and serve society."

Hutchins is a native of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Reprinted from Greenwire with permission from E&E News. Copyright 2018. E&E provides essential news for energy and environment professionals at www.eenews.net.