Text: S.Hrg. 115-695 — NOMINATIONS OF MINDY BRASHEARS, NAOMI C. EARP, AND SCOTT HUTCHINS
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[Senate Hearing 115-695]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
S. Hrg. 115-695
NOMINATIONS OF MINDY BRASHEARS, NAOMI C. EARP, AND SCOTT HUTCHINS
COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE,
NUTRITION, AND FORESTRY
UNITED STATES SENATE
ONE HUNDRED FIFTEENTH CONGRESS
CONSIDERING THE NOMINATIONS OF MINDY BRASHEARS, OF TEXAS, TO BE UNDER
SECRETARY FOR FOOD SAFETY, NAOMI C. EARP, OF MARYLAND, TO BE AN
ASSISTANT SECRETARY, AND SCOTT HUTCHINS, OF INDIANA, TO BE UNDER
SECRETARY FOR RESEARCH, EDUCATION, AND ECONOMICS, ALL OF THE DEPARTMENT
NOVEMBER 28, 2018
Printed for the use of the
Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
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Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.govinfo.gov/
U.S. GOVERNMENT PUBLISHING OFFICE
37-221 PDF WASHINGTON : 2019
COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE, NUTRITION, AND FORESTRY
PAT ROBERTS, Kansas, Chairman
MITCH McCONNELL, Kentucky DEBBIE STABENOW, Michigan
JOHN BOOZMAN, Arkansas PATRICK J. LEAHY, Vermont
JOHN HOEVEN, North Dakota SHERROD BROWN, Ohio
JONI ERNST, Iowa AMY KLOBUCHAR, Minnesota
CINDY HYDE-SMITH, Mississippi MICHAEL BENNET, Colorado
CHARLES GRASSLEY, Iowa KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, New York
JOHN THUNE, South Dakota JOE DONNELLY, Indiana
STEVE DAINES, Montana HEIDI HEITKAMP, North Dakota
DAVID PERDUE, Georgia ROBERT P. CASEY, Jr., Pennsylvania
DEB FISCHER, Nebraska TINA SMITH, Minnesota
James A. Glueck, Jr., Majority Staff Director
DaNita M. Murray, Majority Chief Counsel
Jessica L. Williams, Chief Clerk
Joseph A. Shultz, Minority Staff Director
Mary Beth Schultz, Minority Chief Counsel
C O N T E N T S
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Nominations of Mindy Brashears, of Texas, to be Under Secretary
for Food Safety, Naomi C. Earp, of Maryland, to be an Assistant
Secretary, and Scott Hutchins, of Indiana, to be Under
Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics, all of the
Department of Agriculture...................................... 1
STATEMENTS PRESENTED BY SENATORS
Roberts, Hon. Pat, U.S. Senator from the State of Kansas,
Chairman, Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.... 1
Stabenow, Hon. Debbie, U.S. Senator from the State of Michigan... 2
Brashears, Mindy, of Texas, to be Under Secretary of Agriculture
for Food Safety................................................ 5
Earp, C. Naomi, of Maryland, to be an Assistant Secretary of
Agriculture for Civil Rights................................... 7
Hutchins, Scott, of Indiana, to be Under Secretary of Agriculture
for Research, Education, and Economics......................... 9
Brashears, Mindy............................................. 32
Earp, C. Naomi............................................... 34
Hutchins, Scott.............................................. 37
Document(s) Submitted for the Record:
Roberts, Hon. Pat:
Committee questionnaire, Office of Government Ethics
Executive Branch Personnel Public Financial Disclosure
Report and 5-day letter filed by Mindy Brashears........... 42-79
Committee questionnaire, Office of Government Ethics
Executive Branch Personnel Public Financial Disclosure
Report and 5-day letter filed by Naomi C. Earp
Addendum to Committee questionnaire filed by Naomi C. Earp... 90
Committee questionnaire, Office of Government Ethics
Executive Branch Personnel Public Financial Disclosure
Report and 5-day letter filed by Scott Hutchins
Addendum to Committee questionnaire filed by Scott Hutchins.. 118
Question and Answer:
Written response to questions from Hon. Pat Roberts.......... 146
Written response to questions from Hon. Debbie Stabenow...... 147
Written response to questions from Hon. John Thune........... 151
Written response to questions from Hon. Patrick Leahy........ 152
Written response to questions from Hon. Sherrod Brown........ 153
Written response to questions from Hon. Michael F. Bennet.... 154
Written response to questions from Hon. Kirsten Gillibrand... 154
Written response to questions from Hon. Robert P. Casey, Jr.. 156
Written response to questions from Hon. Tina Smith........... 157
Earp, C. Naomi:
Written response to questions from Hon. Pat Roberts.......... 159
Written response to questions from Hon. John Thune........... 159
Written response to questions from Hon. Patrick Leahy........ 160
Written response to questions from Hon. Debbie Stabenow...... 161
Written response to questions from Hon. Sherrod Brown........ 165
Written response to questions from Hon. Amy Klobuchar........ 166
Written response to questions from Hon. Michael F. Bennet.... 166
Written response to questions from Hon. Kirsten Gillibrand... 167
Written response to questions from Hon. Tina Smith........... 168
Written response to questions from Hon. Pat Roberts.......... 169
Written response to questions from Hon. Debbie Stabenow...... 171
Written response to questions from Hon. John Thune........... 177
Written response to questions from Hon. Patrick Leahy........ 178
Written response to questions from Hon. Sherrod Brown........ 184
Written response to questions from Hon. Michael F. Bennet.... 185
Written response to questions from Hon. Kirsten Gillibrand... 186
Written response to questions from Hon. Tina Smith........... 188
NOMINATIONS OF MINDY BRASHEARS, NAOMI C. EARP, AND SCOTT HUTCHINS
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2018
United States Senate,
Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry,
The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:30 a.m., in
room 328A, Russell Senate Office Building, Hon. Pat Roberts,
Chairman of the Committee, presiding.
Present or submitting a statement: Senators Roberts,
Hoeven, Ernst, Grassley, Thune, Daines, Perdue, Fischer,
Stabenow, Brown, Klobuchar, Bennet, Gillibrand, Donnelly,
Casey, and Smith.
STATEMENT OF HON. PAT ROBERTS, U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF
KANSAS, CHAIRMAN, U.S. COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE, NUTRITION, AND
Chairman Roberts. I call this hearing of the Senate
Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee to order. I
thank my colleagues for joining me in reviewing the nominations
of the individuals before us: Dr. Mindy Brashears, of Texas,
for the position of Under Secretary for Food Safety, an
extremely important position; Ms. Naomi Earp, of Virginia, for
the position of Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Civil
Rights, who has a great deal of experience in this regard; and
Dr. Scott Hutchins, of Indiana, for the position of Under
Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics, all three
Secretary Perdue, his team across the Department's 29
agencies and offices and nearly 100,000 employees have been
working hard on behalf of American farmers, ranchers,
consumers, and businesses that rely on their services. However,
these very important missions will be even better served with
the necessary key leadership in place. I could say ``finally''
about three times to emphasize that.
The position of Under Secretary for Food Safety, to which
Dr. Brashears has been nominated, oversees the Food Safety
Inspection Service, or FSIS. This Under Secretary is tasked
with ensuring the safety and the wholesomeness of meat,
poultry, catfish, and egg products that households all around
the world prepare for their families. If confirmed to this
position, the doctor will lead the Federal inspection
responsibilities at more than 6,000 meat and poultry processing
plants in the United States and its territories.
The position of Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, to
which Ms. Earp has been nominated, leads the Department of
Agriculture Civil Rights programs, including matters related to
program delivery, compliance, and equal employment opportunity.
If confirmed to this position, Ms. Earp will be responsible for
the leadership, coordination and direction of the numerous
division and offices at the USDA that ensure the fair and
equitable treatment of both customers and employees.
Finally, the position of Under Secretary of Research,
Education, and Economics, to which Dr. Scott Hutchins has been
nominated, leads the critical agriculture research mission of
the Department. This position serves as the Chief Scientist of
the USDA and is responsible for the coordination of research,
education, and extension activities, including the Agricultural
Research Service, or the ARS, of the National Institute for
Food and Agriculture. The acronym for that is ``NIFA.''
Each of these positions requires unique qualification and
experience to best serve their individual mission areas. There
is no shortage of experience on this panel of nominees, and I
look forward to hearing more detail about how they would lead
their respective agencies and handle these responsibilities.
All of these positions require an unwavering dedication and
commitment to serve constituents--our farmers, our ranchers,
our growers, our consumers, businesses, and employees that are
impacted on a daily basis by decisions made at the Department
I am pleased the Committee is considering your nominations
today. It is my hope we approve your nominations as quickly as
possible so we can send them to the full Senate for
consideration. I look forward to your testimony and I now turn
to my distinguished colleague, Senator Stabenow, for your
STATEMENT OF HON. DEBBIE STABENOW, U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE
Senator Stabenow. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman, and
welcome to each of you. Mr. Chairman, as we near the end of the
Congress I am pleased that you and I have been able to
continue, along with the Committee, in a bipartisan tradition,
and I know that will continue into the next year as well.
Working side-by-side, we wrote a strong bipartisan Senate Farm
Bill that passed 86-11. As you indicated, it would have been 88
if two more Senators had been present, and it was the largest
vote in history. We are very close to reaching agreement on a
final bill and want to thank you for your leadership and to all
the Committee for their involvement in this.
In addition to all the work we have done on the Farm Bill
this Congress, our Committee has also advanced 11 nominees for
important leadership positions that serve our farmers and
families, and today we are here to consider three more
nominees. Dr. Brashears, Ms. Earp, and Dr. Hutchins, thank you
again for being here. All of you have been selected to fill
very different but incredibly important positions at the USDA.
In Michigan, agriculture is our second-largest industry,
supporting one in four jobs. The root of that success is thanks
to the science that informs our farmers on growing the food
that is on our plates. Groundbreaking agricultural research
happens every day at the USDA and at our land-grant
universities, including my alma mater, Michigan State
University. In fact, every dollar invested in agricultural
research returns over $20 to our economy.
Michigan State-led research has directly strengthened
Michigan's agricultural economy as well as the economy across
the country, through studies that have improved many different
production and disease and pest challenges, including blueberry
production and addressing invasive cherry tree pests, as well
as many, many more. From helping our farmers to be more
productive to protecting our food systems from emerging threats
like climate change, scientific research is key to the success
of American agriculture. That is why it is absolutely critical
that the USDA leadership protects scientific integrity and
continues its strong investment in cutting-edge research.
In addition to using science to help our farmers, the
Department also uses science to ensure the safety of the food
that we eat. Through vigorous inspection, testing, and
outreach, USDA Food Safety Inspection Service works hard to
prevent foodborne illnesses and protect our food supply.
Families should never have to think twice about whether the
food they buy is safe to serve. Every food safety decision must
be made transparently and objectively so that we can continue
to earn the trust of our consumers.
In order for the USDA to successfully carry out this
important work, every single employee and customer must be
treated fairly, with dignity and respect. It is no secret that
the USDA has had a troubled history when it comes to civil
rights. As the arbiter of equal opportunity across the
Department, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil
Rights must do everything in its power to build a culture of
inclusion. Given USDA's challenging past, it is important to
continue to correct mistakes, increase representation, and
The roles you have been nominated to fill are fundamental
to upholding integrity and fostering trust in the Department. I
look forward to learning more about your plans and vision
today. Thank you.
Chairman Roberts. Before I introduce the nominees
testifying before the Committee today I would like to recognize
a very important role right behind the nominees. These are the
family members and associates of our nominees who are here to
lend their support. If you would all please stand and be
recognized, we would like to welcome you to the Committee.
Chairman Roberts. Our first witness is Dr. Mindy Brashears.
She is a Professor of Food Science and Director of the
International Center for Food Industry Excellence at Texas Tech
University in Lubbock, Texas.
What was the score of that K State game?
Dr. Brashears. I do not want to talk about that today. I
will say that when it happened I will tell my husband it would
put me on better ground with you today. Texas Tech was not on
Chairman Roberts. Dr. Brashears' 20-year career as a food
scientist began at the University of Nebraska where she was an
Extension Food Safety Specialist and an Assistant Professor.
The research recommendations and technology she has developed
have been adopted in the United States processing plants and
farms to improve the safety of our food supply. She has also
collaborated with producers in South America and the Caribbean
to improve food safety systems there.
I do not have enough time to mention--we do not have enough
time to mention all of the awards and acknowledgements Dr.
Brashears has received for her work to improve the safety of
food consumed by households all around the world, but take my
word for it, they are numerous.
Dr. Brashears holds a bachelor's degree in food technology
from Texas Tech and master's and Ph.D. degrees in food
microbiology from Oklahoma State University. Mindy and her
husband, Todd, have two daughters, Reagan and Bailey. Welcome,
Mindy. I look forward to your testimony.
Our second witness is Ms. Naomi Earp, of Virginia. She has
been nominated to be the Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for
Civil Rights. Ms. Earp is a seasoned civil servant who retired
with more than 20 years of experience in Federal equal
opportunity policy, charge processing, and complaint handling
and employment law.
Born and raised in Newport News, Ms. Earp received her B.S.
degree in social work from Norfolk State University, her
master's from Indiana University, and her J.D. degree from the
Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law.
She entered the Federal service as a GS-9 careerist, and
she worked her way to the Senior Executive Service prior to
appointments as Chair and Vice Chair of the U.S. Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission under President George W.
Bush. Specifically, Ms. Earp served as the Executive Director
of the Equal Opportunity and Diversity Office of the National
Institute of Health from September '94 to June 2003. In June
2003, she was appointed Vice Chair of the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission where she rose to be the Chairman--
Chairperson, pardon me--and served through June 2009. At that
point she began as the Executive Director of the Opportunity
Inclusiveness Compliance Office of the Library of Congress,
where she served until 2011.
Naomi, we welcome you. I look forward to your testimony.
Dr. Scott Hutchins has held a variety of roles in the
agriculture research and development field, most recently as
the Global Research and Development Leader for Corteva
Agriculture Science and the Agriculture Division of Dow-DuPont.
His research and publications have focused on the science of
entomology and related issues. He has also served as an Adjunct
Professor in the Entomology Department at the University of
Nebraska since 1997.
He had no decisionmaking at all with the decision by the
University of Nebraska to leave the Big 10--or go to the Big 10
and leave the Big 12. We will not go into that. He was not part
of that decision.
Dr. Hutchins received his bachelor's degree in entomology
from Auburn University, a master's degree from Mississippi
State University, and his doctorate from Iowa State University.
He is married. He has three children and seven grandchildren.
So do I, by the way.
Welcome, Scott. I look forward to your testimony.
Mindy, you are up.
Dr. Brashears. Thank you very much.
Chairman Roberts. Hold on a minute.
Dr. Brashears. Oh.
Chairman Roberts. There is something called an oath, and if
you would all rise and raise your right hand please. Well, you
have to stand. I am sorry.
As is the tradition and custom of the Committee, before
nominees or witnesses are to provide testimony I need to
administer the oath. If all of you could please stand, raise
your right hands.
First, do you swear that the testimony you are about to
present is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
truth, so help you God?
Dr. Brashears. Yes.
Ms. Earp. Yes.
Dr. Hutchins. Yes.
Chairman Roberts. And second----
Senator Grassley. The Chairman is supposed to stand too.
[Speaking off microphone.]
Chairman Roberts. What is he complaining about now?
Senator Stabenow. He said you are supposed to stand.
Chairman Roberts. Oh, I am?
[Speaking off microphone.]
Chairman Roberts. Breaking new precedent, I choose to sit.
Second, do you agree that if confirmed you will appear
before any duly constituted committee of Congress if asked to
Dr. Brashears. Yes.
Ms. Earp. Yes.
Dr. Hutchins. Yes.
Chairman Roberts. Thank you. We look forward to your
testimony. Mindy, you are now up and official.
STATEMENT OF MINDY BRASHEARS, OF TEXAS, NOMINATED TO BE UNDER
SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE FOR FOOD SAFETY
Dr. Brashears. Thank you. Chairman Roberts, Ranking Member
Stabenow, and members of the Committee, I thank you for
inviting me here today to testify before you. I am honored to
be nominated by President Trump and for the support of
Secretary Perdue to be considered for the position of Under
Secretary of Agriculture for Food Safety.
If I am so honored to be confirmed by the Senate, it will
be my pleasure to serve the citizens of the United States by
providing a safe food supply through my leadership in this
position with the Food Safety and Inspection Service. FSIS and
I hold the same vision statement, ``Everyone's food is safe.''
My education and experience, combined with my family and my
faith, have all played integral roles in my preparation for
I am honored that my parents, Gary and Becky Hardcastle,
are here today to support me. Growing up on a farm in Wheeler,
Texas, prepared me for a life in the agriculture industry.
Driving a tractor, hauling hay, and raising livestock built my
work ethic, my character, and perseverance at an early age.
I married my high school sweetheart, Todd Brashears, who I
met while showing lambs at the Houston Livestock Show and
Rodeo. We recently celebrated 29 years of marriage and have
been blessed by our three daughters, Bailey, Reagan, and
Being a mother prepared me in a very unique way for this
position by making food safety a personal mission. Many young
lives have been lost due to foodborne illnesses and each time I
hear a parent speak about a loss, it reaffirms my dedication to
protecting our food supply.
After completing my B.S. at Texas Tech, and my M.S. and
Ph.D. at Oklahoma State, I began my professional career at the
University of Nebraska as an Assistant Professor of Food
Safety. The first day of my job, August 13, 1997, coincided
with the largest recall of ground beef in U.S. history, at the
time, due to E. coli O157:H7 contamination. This Nebraska-based
processing facility from which the outbreak originated
eventually closed, but interacting with industry, media and
consumers during this crisis equipped me to assist other
processors to improve their food safety systems. These actions
set my career on the path of providing educational
opportunities and focused research to help prevent foodborne
illnesses from occurring.
Additionally, in January 1998, new FSIS regulations were
implemented. My extension role sent me to many small and very
small processing plants to train them in basic food safety,
sanitation, and HACCP. I provided the scientific link between
the industry and the new regulations.
After 4 years, I had the opportunity to return to Texas
Tech to serve on the faculty and at the same time was named the
Director of the International Center for Food Industry
Excellence where I managed budgets, built research teams, and
sharpened my leadership skills. I grew as a scientist during
this time, conducting research to develop pre-and post-harvest
technologies that make our food supply safer and to study the
emergence of antibiotic resistance in food systems.
I have dedicated my career to protecting the food supply by
studying control mechanisms for foodborne pathogens, especially
Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli and Listeria
monocytogenes in meat and poultry products.
In the role as Under Secretary, if I am confirmed, I plan
to take my scientific expertise and my experience in problem-
solving to make sound data-driven decisions while working with
our current leadership team to protect public health. I look
forward to focusing on modernizing our systems with an emphasis
on issues which pose significant public health threats such as
the emergence of antibiotic resistance and evaluation of new
and emerging products and technologies. I will work diligently
to recruit, retain, and educate our inspectors to implement
regulations to ensure food safety and public health.
In the past few weeks there have been multiple outbreaks
associated with meat and poultry products. There will always be
improvements that can be made in our system to protect the
consumer. We are all consumers as are our children, our
parents, and our friends, and I can use my scientific skills to
inform regulatory decisions to prevent and respond to future
Last, but the most important thing in my life is my faith
in God. I want to thank Him for my family, my education, and
experiences, and this opportunity that has been placed before
me. Through my faith I will gain the wisdom I need to make
sound decisions in this position.
Committee members, I appreciate the time you have taken to
be here today. I am humbled by the nomination and I would be
honored to serve as your Under Secretary overseeing food safety
if I am so honored to be confirmed.
Thank you again. I look forward to your questions.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Brashears can be found on
page 32 in the appendix.]
Chairman Roberts. Naomi? Ms. Earp?
STATEMENT OF NAOMI C. EARP, OF MARYLAND, NOMINATED TO BE AN
ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS
Ms. Earp. Good morning. Chairman Roberts, Ranking Member
Stabenow, members of the Committee, it is an honor to sit
before you today. I am proud President Trump nominated me to
the position of Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at USDA
and I am humbled by Secretary Perdue's faith in me. As I sit
here with members of my family present, we are in awe because
there is nothing in our lives that could orchestrate this
outcome but God, and I give Him all the praise.
My mother and I share the name, Naomi. Both of our birth
certificates say we are just ``colored girls'' born in Newport
News, Virginia. We have spent our lives proving that people are
so much more than limited, frozen-in-time labels. My mom was my
first hero and mentor. She taught me self-discipline, never to
settle, to keep my eyes on the prize. I am the first of 13
children. I do not know but I think I must have been a really
great kid because my mom kept trying to replicate me.
Ms. Earp. My mother and I shared responsibility for our
family. As a practical matter, she became the father and I
became the mother. I loved school. My all-black high school was
a sanctuary. Despite segregation, the black teachers and
administrators pushed us. The black educators challenged us to
work twice as hard as our white contemporaries and to make a
positive contribution to the black community, no matter how
small that contribution may be.
As I was discovering my place in the world, my mother was
discovering President Johnson's War on Poverty. Mom took
advantage of every job-related, educational, economic
opportunity that was offered. She went back to school, trained
as an OB/GYN technician, and she bought a home. Both my mother
and I graduated in 1972, I from college and mom from high
During graduate school I was hired as a Civil Rights
Specialist for the minority set-aside program in the Department
of Commerce. That 10 percent set-aside program was both the
start of my Federal career and a long and passionate love
affair with equal opportunity and civil rights matters.
If confirmed, I will bring a record of achievement forged
in several Federal agency cultures: large, small,
geographically dispersed, single location, bureaucratically
complex, and straightforward. Programs I conceived and
shepherded years ago are still viable because of strategic
alliances and the hard work of changing minds and business
processes. The saying is, ``If you build it, they will come.''
I say, if you build it right, it will be embraced and
contribute to systemic change.
In 2012, I went to work in Memphis. I wanted, in some small
way, to contribute to the legacy of Dr. King. My time there
gave me an opportunity to meet some of the very same sanitation
workers that marched with Dr. King.
The visit to Memphis, lasting 4 years, also underscored for
me how much more work needs to be done if we are to have a
color-blind society that judges us on the content of our
character. I have worked for this all my life and it is what
brings me before you today, seeking confirmation.
I believe that the Federal workplace can be a kind of
``promised land.'' We can do what is right by our customers and
our employees. I will aggressively, if confirmed, continue to
work to make sure minority and small farmers have access to
USDA programs and services. I would like to see more technical
assistance for underserved populations.
Should I be confirmed, I plan to specifically target
harassment and retaliation issues with new approaches to
training and strict accountability. Finally, if confirmed, I
will enforce the Secretary's zero-tolerance for discrimination
with strict accountability.
I want to do a shout-out to my 11-year-old niece, Reagann,
who is getting her first introduction to the legislative
process, and I would like to say, again, thank you, Mr.
Chairman, Ranking Member, and members of the Committee. I look
forward to answering your questions.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Earp can be found on page 34
in the appendix.]
Chairman Roberts. You have quite a story to tell and you
have a great legacy.
Ms. Earp. Thank you. It is all her.
Chairman Roberts. Reagann? Hi, Mom. Where is Reagann? Can
Reagann stand up? Very cool.
Chairman Roberts. Mr. Boozman is not here, Reagann, if you
want to come up here and sit in his chair.
Chairman Roberts. I am serious. Come on up if you would
Chairman Roberts. Do not sit on that side. Sit on this
Chairman Roberts. I mean, a man has got to do what he has
got to do. Sit right there, Reagann. How are you today? It is
good to see you. Thank you. What a charming young lady.
Senator Brown. It is an upgrade.
Chairman Roberts. Yes. It is an upgrade.
Chairman Roberts. Senator Brown would have said that, if
anybody sat over here. Whatever. Okay, Scott. Top that.
STATEMENT OF SCOTT HUTCHINS, OF INDIANA, TO BE UNDER SECRETARY
OF AGRICULTURE FOR RESEARCH, EDUCATION, AND ECONOMICS
Dr. Hutchins. There is your first lesson, Reagann.
Well, good morning. Chairman Roberts, Ranking Member
Stabenow, and members of the Committee, I am pleased to appear
before you today as President Trump's nominee to the position
of Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics
within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. I would like to
thank President Trump for this opportunity and Secretary Perdue
for his confidence and support.
I am myself a product of the U.S. Land Grant System and
therefore feel a great sense of honor and pride to be
considered for this position and, if confirmed, will dedicate
myself to fulfill the mission as outlined by Congress and
achieve the goals of USDA as outlined by Secretary Perdue.
I would also like to thank my family here with me today. My
wife, Jan Hutchins from Alabama, who has been a supportive life
partner for over 38 years. We have three wonderful children and
seven grandchildren that are our pride and joy. My sisters,
Dawn Skelley and Candy Kellner from Georgia, who are incredibly
supportive siblings--we shared amazing parents, Cecil and
Robbie Hutchins, who have passed on, but are here with us here
today in spirit.
My cousin Randy Pfaff from North Carolina, a U.S. Army
Veteran and retired fire fighter; we travel each year on
motorcycle vacations with our spouses and, in fact, have
enjoyed riding in many of the great States represented by this
Throughout my career, I have dedicated my professional
contributions to developing innovations and novel technologies
in support of agricultural production, including organic
production, working every day to provide tools that allow
farmers to not only succeed in their businesses, but to do so
with a progressively smaller footprint to the environment.
For example, I was the Global Product Development Manager
for spinosad in the late 1990's, a naturally derived insect
management tool that is today the most widely used insect
management tool in organic agriculture within the United
My journey as a scientist began at Auburn University in the
late 1970s where I benefited from excellent teachers and
mentors in agricultural entomology and became passionate about
helping growers manage devastating pest problems.
One formative experience, as a Cotton Scout in central
Alabama in 1980, I saw the real world in living color,
devastating crop losses from the cotton boll weevil, with
extensive chemical control necessary that subsequently
``released'' several additional species, creating a pesticide
treadmill. If you compare that reality of that 1980 experience
of cotton production to the systems of today, the boll weevil
has been largely eradicated due to the great work of the USDA
and the land-grant research institutions.
Worm species are controlled via biotechnology-powered host
plant resistance, and the remaining pests are managed with
tools that are far less toxic with a smaller environmental
footprint than their predecessors. I am pleased and proud to
have contributed in some measure to this progress on
Impacted by this experience, I elected to pursue graduate
studies at Mississippi State University where I learned the art
of research and experimental design. I became a student of
integrated pest management and followed this interest to Iowa
State University to study under the tutelage of Dr. Larry
Pedigo, who was a world-renowned pioneer in the field of
bioeconomics. Through his mentorship, I developed a passion for
IPM in the context of farm management and elected to also
pursue a minor in agriculture economics.
I have been fortunate to have worked closely with numerous
university teams and administrators throughout my career, along
with scientific societies to create and advance public-private
partnerships. Notably, as a member of the Governing Board of
the Entomological Society of America for 9 years, including as
president in 2007, I have sought to build consensus on positive
change while encouraging a culture of inclusivity of all
members and in planning the future role ESA will play for its
members. I was deeply honored to have been elected as a Fellow
of ESA in 2009, the first member with a long career in the
private sector to receive that honor in over 100 years of
history of the society.
If confirmed, I look forward to working with Secretary
Perdue and his team to fulfill the expectations of Congress and
the Administration to ensure U.S. agriculture remains the most
effective, efficient, and sustainable producer of food, feed,
and fiber in the world. Because any model for sustained
progress requires a focus on best practices and land
stewardship, the Land Grant Mission is timeless in not only
research, but also research-made-relevant through education and
extension. This includes not only research on the healthy and
productive use of the land, but on the animal and human
consumers of these agricultural products.
I was honored to have met in person the Nobel Laureate Dr.
Norman Borlaug, who first inspired all of us to fulfill,
through the Green Revolution, what is now the current mantra of
USDA and Secretary Perdue, ``Do Right and Feed Everyone.''
Moreover, if confirmed, I commit to actively work with and
lead the REE team to address strategic themes outlined by the
Secretary and Congress. The women and men of the REE agencies
are truly world class with a tremendous history of impact. My
goal is to ensure their full potential is realized for the
continued benefit of U.S. agriculture.
I have many years of directly applicable experience in
administering large, complex, and diverse research
organizations. I also have had unique professional experiences
through two major mergers with roles in Human Resources, Six
Sigma Quality Improvement, and numerous program and portfolio
management assignments that I believe will prove useful to USDA
if confirmed by the Senate.
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Stabenow, members of the
Committee, I am truly honored to have been nominated for this
critical role in USDA, and, if confirmed, I pledge to do all I
can each and every day to expand the long term competitiveness
and sustainability of U.S. agriculture and further develop the
framework and capabilities of REE scientists and professionals.
In closing, I would like to thank you for allowing me the
privilege of appearing in front of the Committee today and I
look forward to answering any questions.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Hutchins can be found on
page 37 in the appendix.]
Chairman Roberts. Thank you, Doctor.
Dr. Brashears, the Under Secretary for Food Safety holds an
important position as the U.S. Codex Office Policy Committee
Chair as well. At the last year, the Codex office was housed at
the Food Safety Inspection Service and it was recently moved to
the Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs mission area. How do
you envision carrying out this responsibility in coordination
with that mission area and what role do you envision for the
United States with our international partners in Codex?
Dr. Brashears. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for that question.
Through my international research I have seen first-hand that
food safety can definitely impact trade, so I am in support of
these two entities working together. If I am confirmed I do
look forward to working with our trade and marketing group at
the USDA to serve as the Policy Committee chair for Codex.
We will use science and data to work in collaboration with
our counterparts across the globe to develop international
policies that ensure that our food is safe and that it can be
traded. I am excited for the opportunity to do this. I think my
experience and background have prepared me for this role, and I
look forward to serving in that capacity if I am confirmed.
Chairman Roberts. Reagann, do you have any questions for
Ms. Earp, who is sitting directly--you do not have any
questions for her?
Ms. Davis. No.
Chairman Roberts. Okay. Do you have a preference? Would you
like to still sit up here or would you like to go back to your
Ms. Davis. I am going to sit up here.
Chairman Roberts. You are going to sit up here.
Senator Donnelly. I think you look very good up there.
Senator Stabenow. She is coming for your gavel.
[Speaking off microphone.]
Chairman Roberts. All right. We will settle down now here,
before we have a revolution on our hands.
Ms. Earp, if confirmed, the office that you will be leading
is obviously a very high-profile position and it will certainly
spearhead effective leadership with the Department on these
issues. What measures will you take to buildupon steps taken by
the USDA to ensure civil rights issues continue to improve
throughout the Department? You touched on this in your opening
statement, so you can make this as short or as long as you
Ms. Earp. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would make it short
and focused on two things. On the employment side of the house,
the Title VII side, I am keenly aware that harassment and
retaliation is a priority. Discrimination against women and the
issues that we face in Forest Service have gone on too long. On
that front, I would like to engage the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission and the Office of the Secretary, to see
if we can have a pilot or an initiative to expedite complaints
of sexual harassment, that we can triage them in a way to
separate sexual assault from the silliness of the process that
goes on as a part of harassment.
On the minority farmer, female rancher, new entrants into
farm, the Title VI side of the house, if confirmed I would like
to focus on access. USDA is huge, it is complex, and I think
that there is a link between understanding and access to our
programs and services. I would like to, in an oversight
position, work with the mission areas to see if we cannot
figure out what that link is in terms of preventing land loss.
So, in a nutshell, those would be my two priorities, if
Chairman Roberts. I appreciate that very much. Thank you
for your response.
Dr. Hutchins, the Department recently undertook a
realignment and relocation effort that would move the ERS under
the Office of the Chief Economist and physically relocate ERS
and NIFA out of the National Capital region and closer to
agriculture producers. If confirmed, you will be responsible
for ensuring the research, education, and economic function of
the Department will continue without any interruption.
What is your philosophy on managing change and
organizational structure? How will you ensure that the
consistency and integrity of these agencies will continue
throughout a period of potential transition?
Dr. Hutchins. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the question. I
have not been briefed by USDA or those participating with this,
at this point in time, on activities already in place, and the
actions that I am sure are being well considered. I will
assume, of course, that the logistical challenges have been
What I would emphasize, from a personal philosophy
standpoint, is that the details matter, and developing how the
transitions would be made, developing a rationale on the core
functions and capabilities and individuals that would remain in
the Washington, DC. area in order to ensure that the
collaborations with the other agencies, that the science
remains strong and is not affected by the administrative
aspects of this would be important.
I think the experience that I have had, sir, in mergers,
where I have been in positions to close facilities, to open
facilities, to merge activities, and to develop organizational
design will serve me well in helping support whatever actions
ultimately do occur. My time in human resources and with those
Six Sigma tools, I think, will be useful to the administration
and to Congress in ensuring that the science is not affected
with these particular moves. I look forward to the opportunity
of focusing on this, if confirmed.
Chairman Roberts. Doctor, as I had brought up in our
meeting a few weeks ago, the success of the National Bio and
Agro-Defense facility, called NBAF, in Manhattan, Kansas--home
of the ever-optimistic and fighting Wildcats, despite our
season--is a top priority for me. I have a question with
regards to the plan in the President's Fiscal Year 2019 budget
request to transfer the operational responsibility of NBAF.
However, I will enter that question in the record and look
forward to your response in writing.
Senator Stabenow. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and welcome
again to each of you.
I wanted to followup, Ms. Earp, on something that you
indicated, you said a few minutes ago, that I just wanted you
to clarify. You had said you want to separate sexual assault
from the silliness of sexual harassment. Could you talk a
little bit more about what that means?
Ms. Earp. Thank you. Yes, ma'am, for that question. I
probably should not have described sexual harassment as
``silliness,'' although it is on a continuum. What I was
referring to, sexual assault that we have seen, in some cases,
is a criminal matter. It needs to be investigated, expedited,
handled quickly. Sexual harassment that falls short of assault,
the kind of bullying and coarse language and photographs and
those kinds of things, I think that to handle all of the
complaints that come forward we really could have two tracks to
expedite things and speedily get them into a right track for
Senator Stabenow. I understand the difference in what you
are talking about, but, for instance, in the Forestry Service
we have had a culture of sexual harassment and inappropriate
behavior and bullying and so on. So you consider that less
serious? I mean, for the people that are working there, this
has been a very serious concern in terms of their capacity to,
as professionals, be able to do their job.
Ms. Earp. No, I do not consider it less serious. I consider
harassment and retaliation, which often follows employees who
complain about sexual harassment, so significant because it
chills the very workplace. It chills the environment. If I am
confirmed, one of the things that I would like to do with the
Forest Service is get an assessment of the crew culture, the
very lowest level in the Forest Service where firefighters are
working together, to look at the behavior, to look at the
social norms, to look at how employees interact, and then
proceed with training to address that. I think it is all very
serious. That is why my priority would be harassment and
Senator Stabenow. Thank you. The USDA has a long, troubled
history of serious civil rights violations, as you know. In
recent years, the USDA has settled several very large civil
rights lawsuits, paying out billions of dollars in settlements.
You were working on civil rights issues at the USDA during
some of the time, when the wrongful behavior was occurring in
some of the lawsuits. What do you think contributed to the
unlawful behavior at USDA that was alleged in the lawsuits and
how would you work to make sure USDA is not involved in that
type of discriminatory behavior again?
Ms. Earp. There has been change, despite the challenges
that remain. In 1987 to 1990, when I worked for the Department
of Agriculture, my priorities were affirmative action and
disparate treatment--disparate treatment in looking
specifically at black farmers, affirmative action in looking
specifically at the underrepresentation of women in the
firefighter job series. Today, some 25, 30 years later, we have
women represented but we have a culture that has them both
excluded and conspicuous as members of that force.
On the disparate treatment side, I did not see, between
1987 and 1990, the trends that would lead to the major cases
that you speak of, partly because we were looking at individual
farmers and their complaints, partly because there was not the
kind of data transparency that would be needed to spot the kind
of trends and put in place systemic remedies.
I feel like some business is unfinished, so if I am
confirmed I will be working very hard to address the issues as
they exist today, and not as I saw them 20, 25 years ago.
Senator Stabenow. Thank you.
Dr. Hutchins, in August, Secretary Perdue outlined his
research reorganization plan, which would move the Economic
Research Service into the Office of the Chief Economist and the
Office of the Secretary, and would relocate the over 700
Economic Research Service and National Institute for Food and
Agriculture employees away from the Capital region. What are
your thoughts on the proposal and if the agencies are indeed
moved, what steps would you implement to ensure that this
reorganization would not come at the expense of the USDA's
world-class agriculture and economic research capacity?
Dr. Hutchins. Thank you, Senator, for the question. As I
indicated earlier, what I know about the moves, in terms of
details, is what I have read in the public press, but what I
have seen is that the goals of the Secretary, I think, are the
right goals, to be effective, efficient, customer-focused.
Having said that, those agencies provide a very valuable
and critical service and role to U.S. agriculture, as you
indicated, so my priority, if confirmed, would be to ensure,
just as you have indicated, that the science is not affected,
that the collaborative spirit that those agencies currently
have is not affected, and that we are able to maintain, over a
long kind of multigenerational approach, transformative
approach, any transitions that do happen outside of Washington,
DC, do not happen at the loss or at the sacrifice of the
quality of the science, or the independence, if you want to
think of it that way, of the economic assessments that ERS
So that would be my commitment to this Committee.
Senator Stabenow. Well, that is critically important, as
you know, given the importance of these functions.
Given your extensive career in the private sector--and you
and I have talked about this--how would you address concerns
that you may prioritize research efforts that support industry
over the interests of farmers, farm workers, or the
Dr. Hutchins. Thank you very much for the question. So my
focus, for my career, prior to retirement, has been always
innovation, and innovation is in multiple areas of technology
and multiple areas of focus. So what I am very proud about, as
an entomologist working in the private sector, is the ability
for us to have developed, and the industry, actually, to have
developed some really progressive solutions, some of which I
have mentioned. Others in the area of urban pest management
with termite baiting would be examples. Technologies are now
being driven through biotechnology, those kinds of things.
What I would just remind everyone, if you think about the
technology, it has its own lifecycle. So we move, over time,
with progress. So the most important aspect of research, and
what it can do for agriculture, is to help us move to the next
generation and the next generation. I think the public sector
and the private sector do need to be partners in that, and the
public sector plays a very vital role in that aspect. The
private sector plays a role as well. The two have some
overlapping aspects, in terms of making sure that we are all
focused on the customer and on U.S. agriculture, but they also
have some independent areas, and so certainly there would be no
crossing of those areas that are independent.
Senator Stabenow. Thank you. Dr. Brashears, consumer demand
continues to increase for locally grown and processed meat and
poultry. However, many local food producers and small farmers
have difficulty finding slaughter and processing facilities
that can accommodate smaller-scale operations. Some States have
turned to State meat inspection as an alternative to finding
Federal inspectors to fill their facilities due to limited
availability of Federal inspection.
Will you support small plants and the development of local
meat slaughter and processing facilities, and specifically, can
you commit to providing sufficient inspectors for mobile
slaughter units and small processing plants in rural areas?
Dr. Brashears. Thank you very much for that question. In a
short answer, yes, but I want to draw on my background and
Much of my work, throughout my career, has been with the
small and very small processing plants. As I mentioned in my
opening statement, whenever I began at the University of
Nebraska it was right on the cusp of when the new FSIS
regulations came into play and it was the first major change in
decades. I did not even realize when I moved to Nebraska that
it was the No. 1 slaughter State. Well, that was not because of
the large entities that we think about. It was because of the
small and very small processors.
So I had the opportunity to serve as their technical
expert, because I was in an extension role, which is very
important. So I visited them, I conducted training in HACCP,
food safety, sanitation. I helped them with HACCP plans. So I
saw firsthand the need.
Reading a regulation is overwhelming, and taking a
regulation into practically applying it in a plant is also
overwhelming, and we have to be sure to provide the technical
expertise and the inspectors so these small and very small
companies can be successful, and I will be committed to doing
Senator Stabenow. During your first year on the job, will
you commit to work with stakeholders to develop an agency
action plan to support local meat products?
Dr. Brashears. At this time I am not aware of what is out
there but I am definitely committed to looking into what the
agency has, and I am committed to developing action items that
will support our small and very small processors.
Senator Stabenow. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr.
Chairman Roberts. Senator Ernst.
Senator Ernst. Thank you, Mr. Chair, very much. Dr.
Hutchins, we will start with you. Some of these questions are
very similar, I think, that all of us were curious about. I am
going to jump back to relocating, of course, and go Cyclones.
Thank you very much. I appreciate that.
Dr. Hutchins, Secretary Perdue has started the process of
the relocation, as many of us have talked about, of the
Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food
and Agriculture outside of Washington, DC. I am really excited
about this, because I do have an act that is called the SWAMP
Act, which would move all of our headquarters of Federal
agencies outside of the immediate Washington, DC, area. So
while it does not go quite as far, I am excited about the
opportunities, and I do think that moving these ag agencies
outside of the beltway is a good step in the right direction,
and an example of what I hope other Federal agencies might be
able to do at some point.
So I know that you have talked about maintaining the
quality of research that would be coming out of these agencies.
We have talked just briefly about land-grant institutions. Can
you maybe talk a little bit about where we might be able to
partner, not only with private industry but also with some of
our land-grant institutions, in perhaps doing research. Would
that be an opportunity that we would have?
Dr. Hutchins. Thank you for the question. I think that
opportunity is really part and parcel of what the mission of
the Research, Education, and Economics is at its heart. What
the land-grant system was designed to do was to really focus on
those key problems. The Agriculture Research Service is a
world-class organization with a tremendous history, to focus on
agricultural issues of national importance. So I am not aware
of any country in the world, and I have traveled to many, that
have that same kind of capability.
So my goal would be to utilize that expertise, to work on
those national issues, and to partner and leverage that
expertise with the land-grants to work on the ones that are
more local or regional, and to really strengthen, in doing
that, in both of those, to make sure that we, you know, focus
the resources that are best developed for ARS versus NIFA types
of funding, where they are.
I think being close and proximal to agriculture is a valued
trait. I think anything, at the end of the day, could be
managed, and it has been managed well at NIFA here. We really
need to focus, in my mind, the effectiveness and efficiency in
order for the long-term investment we can make and to be able
to link that to the land-grant institutions.
Senator Ernst. Very good. I appreciate that very much. We
are very proud of Iowa State and their ties to agriculture, so
thank you very much for that.
Ms. Earp, thank you so much. It is very nice to have all of
you here, so thank you.
Ms. Earp, again, going back to the forestry and the Forest
Service, this is an issue, and I do not know that we can talk
about it enough. The sexual misconduct and mismanagement, all
of those allegations that continue to come out by the U.S.
Forest Service chief is disturbing.
If you are confirmed, then how can we increase transparency
and reporting and investigations of misconduct with these types
of allegations within the USDA? How can we do that so that a
situation like this does not happen again?
Ms. Earp. Thank you, Senator. The Forest Service and its
history is long and complicated. I look forward, though, if
confirmed, working with the new Forest chief, who is a woman. I
think that might give us some additional leverage in addressing
the problem. I would like very much to have a sense of urgency
and to work in an oversight capacity with the Forest Service to
identify the culture.
There are lessons to be learned. Tailhook, from the
military. Some years ago air traffic control towers were an
issue for women because it had been predominantly a male area.
I think that today we can identify some of the risk factors for
sexual assault and sexual harassment. I am committed to try
everything possible and to do it with as much deliberate speed
as the government allows.
Senator Ernst. Well, I appreciate that very much. It seems
to be an issue that pops its ugly head up in many of our
different departments, and we just really have to own this and
figure out a way to combat it and then to feed it.
So I appreciate the time that you have given us today.
Thank you all very much and thank you for your continued
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Chairman Roberts. We thank you, Senator. Senator Casey.
Senator Casey. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thanks for adding
to the membership of the Committee with real talent.
Senator Casey. I want to thank our witnesses for being here
today. I will direct my questions to Dr. Brashears, but for all
three of the witnesses and the nominees for putting yourself
forward for public service at a difficult time to do that, and
also for the commitment that not only you make but that of your
families as well. We are grateful for that.
Dr. Brashears, I want to start with--and I mentioned
earlier, in our discussions before the hearing--I will start
with salmonella, which is a difficult topic, but you said you
want to talk about it because of the importance of it. We know
that last week USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service posted
data that showed how individual poultry processing plants
across the country are doing with respect to controlling the
levels of salmonella in chicken parts.
This was the right thing to do and I, and I know many
others, applaud the agency for taking this step, which provides
both transparency and can also incentivize improved industry
performance. I am concerned with what the agency has found,
which is that some of the largest poultry companies in our
country are selling products that fail to meet the Food Safety
and Inspection Service performance standards for chicken parts.
There have been significant, well-documented foodborne
illness outbreaks associated with these products, as you know.
The first question I have is why do you think some
establishments continue to struggle to control salmonella on
Dr. Brashears. The first thing I want to tell--thank you
for the question--but the first thing I want to tell you is I
am also concerned. I mean, this is not something that I think
is acceptable for our consumers, and we have to take action to
get these numbers down.
As I told you, I have spent my career studying salmonella
and control measures for salmonella. One thing about the
performance standards is they are a 52-week window, and I am
optimistic and hopeful now that these processors look at
specific areas of the plant where there is a problem, and in
this case in the parts, they know where to take action and make
changes to get those numbers down. I think, you know, within
the agency we are going to have to watch those and watch those
numbers come down as they take action, and that will be a
commitment of mine. Controlling salmonella, preventing
outbreaks, and looking at ways to reduce salmonella in our food
supply is very important to me and it will be a priority for me
in this job.
Senator Casey. I appreciate that. I may followup in
writing, but I will ask you about the steps you can take to
improve performance of these so-called Category 2 and 3 plants,
and I will submit that for the record. In order to get my other
question--and I wanted to also ask you about slaughter and
processing facilities. One of the concerns I have heard from
smaller livestock producers in Pennsylvania is that slaughter
and processing facilities are, unfortunately, few and far
between. Too often producers have to schedule processing dates
months in advance and then travel long distances, and we have a
big State and that is a lot of miles for these folks.
This is particularly frustrating when there are custom
slaughter establishments in close proximity that cannot be
utilized because they lack Federal inspection. It would be
helpful, from a rural economic development perspective, for
USDA to help develop a coordinated strategy to improve the
small and the even very small processing sector, including
bringing some of these custom plants into the fold so that
smaller livestock producers have more options.
If confirmed, is that something you would be willing to
help us with? I know you addressed part of this with Senator
Dr. Brashears. Yes, it is. I grew up in a rural area, and
actually, my family raises cattle, and we have the same issue.
If you have an animal you want to have custom harvested then it
can be very challenging to know where to take it. So just
personally and from a scientific perspective, to keep our food
supply safe, I think we need to have better programs so we can
make sure that all of our food is inspected and processed under
Federal inspection or the equivalent of it within a State
entity. So it is very important to me to take action on those
Senator Casey. We look forward to working with you on it.
Dr. Brashears. Thank you.
Senator Casey. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Roberts. Senator Brown.
Senator Grassley. Thank you all for your public service
that you have done or will continue to do in a new position.
A comment I would like to make to you that I would make to
every Presidential appointed under a Republican or a Democrat
administration, about the importance of listening to people
that refer to as whistleblowers, but probably when you first
come in contact with them they are not whistleblowers. All of
you are going to be involved with at least hundreds, and maybe
thousands and maybe, in some cases, tens of thousands of people
working under you.
You cannot possibly know what is going on, and with my
experience with whistleblowers, I have found that almost all of
them, obviously not every one of them, because some do have an
ax to grind, but they just want to government to do what
government is supposed to do, and they want the money spent the
way that Congress intended it for to spend.
So I think you ought to give really consideration when you
hear from people below you that something is wrong, try to
correct it, so that they do not have to come to Congress, and
at that point they kind of appear to be treated by the agency
like a skunk at a picnic. There is a great deal of peer
pressure to go along, and in each one of your agencies, people
below you that are responsible for these people or these
programs, they do not want anybody to make them look bad, and
sometimes a whistleblower does that. So if you could give them
some attention I would appreciate it.
The other thing is in response to the oath that the
Chairman gives you and the promise that you give to respond to
oversight requests from Congress, either to appear here or to
answer the phone calls or to answer our letters, and most of it
is probably letters, I do not say this because I know any of
you do not have bad intentions not to do what you say you are
going to do. I have found that we get this ``yes'' answer, over
the 38 years that I have been in the Congress, and in the last
four or 5 years I have advised people that maybe they would be
better to say ``maybe'' instead of to just say ``yes.'' Because
we sometimes do not get an answer, or sometimes if you get an
answer it is an incomplete answer, and then you go back and
forth and you go back and forth.
I know that you folks have not maybe experienced that yet
but I experience it all the day. Two years ago--I cannot give
you a followup figure but I wrote 555 letters to people like
you, in your position, in every--probably a lot of agencies of
government. I am not talking about the USDA, because probably
few of them went to the USDA. It is just a pain in the butt
when you do not get a full answer when you first ask it.
So that would be my advice to you, to carry out what you
just said you would do, but to understand that my experience
has been that if it is carried out it is not carried out fully,
and eventually you get answers, and probably the reason a lot
of answers do not want to be given is because of the
embarrassment that comes with it.
Before I ask the one question that I am going to ask of Ms.
Earp, I am going to say to you that when you were in my office
I reminded you of my involvement in trying to get justice for
black farmers through the Pigford issue, and hopefully that is
all behind us. If it is not, then I would advise you, like I
advised our former Iowa Governor, and then later Secretary of
Agriculture, in the Obama Administration, and we discussed it
and he did a very good job, I think, of following through on
all that. If there are any latent things that have not been
taken care of that I would appreciate your following through on
So my one question to you is more from history than it is
from the immediate problem, but because you have a long and
distinguished career in civil service, how do you view the
civil rights challenges facing the Federal Government today
with those that you dealt with a few decades ago? Are things as
bad as they were, a little bit improved, or completely
improved? You do not have to limit yourself to those three
Ms. Earp. Thank you, sir, for that question. I would say
that my life has been a testament to the improvements. I was
born a colored girl. Some people may call me African American.
I choose to identify as black American, bold and proud.
When I first attempted to enter Federal service you had to
take a test, and that test was determined to have a disparate
adverse impact on women and minorities. That test no longer
exists. Change is not easy. It does not come quick, but it is
vital. I think that despite the problems we have, tremendous
progress has been made, and I want to do my part to ensure that
On a footnote with one of your pet projects, I would just
say, also to Senator Stabenow, that whistleblowers are
essential to eradicating a culture of bad behavior, a culture
of harassment. Bystanders' willingness to see something and say
something, to have a conversation about how we talk to each
other, is essential.
Senator Grassley. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Roberts. Reagann, Senator Grassley is going to be
the President pro tempore of the Senate. He is a very important
Senator right now but he is going to be the President pro
tempore, and that means he gets to ride in a special car, and
he has security in front of him, and security in back of him. I
am not sure how he is going to work out the gasoline mileage
issue that he focuses on.
The one thing I noticed, that you were writing down ``skunk
in a picnic.''
Chairman Roberts. That is not unusual for the future
President pro tempore of the Senate.
Senator Brown. With that introduction, thank you. Thanks,
Dr. Hutchins. Welcome to all three of you. NIFA is a key
partner in our Nation's land-grant universities, as you know. I
am proud to say Ohio has two land-grants, Central State
University and Ohio State University, and are doing some of the
most cutting-edge research in the country. Pending your
confirmation, I would like to personally invite you to both of
these institutions at some point.
The 1890 Land Grant plays an important role in promoting
agricultural research at a number of historically black college
and universities. In the 2018 Farm Bill, that the Senate
passed--and I again thank Senators Roberts and Stabenow for
their persistence on moving forward in a bipartisan way. I
mean, we passed this bill with 86 votes. The language we wrote
for the--we strengthened the program, creating new centers of
excellence and a scholarship program. I would like you to
commit to this Committee to continue support and advocate for
strong funding for 1890 Land Grants.
Dr. Hutchins. Thank you, Senator, for the comment and the
question. I very much look forward to being briefed on the 1890
university and the role that they play. I think the purpose is
outstanding, as well as the 1994 as well. I would look forward
immediately, if confirmed, to understanding the specifics of
that. Everything I know about it would tell me that it
certainly is a commitment that I would be willing to make.
Senator Brown. Thank you, and just a thanks for that
answer. Senator Roberts and Senator Stabenow have helped to
right the wrong for decades with Central States--Central State,
I am sorry. Central States is the pension issue we are working
on--but Central State. I so appreciate the work they have done
and they are continuing to strengthen that.
Another question for you, Dr. Hutchins. Do you accept the
science of anthropogenic climate change--human-caused, for
those of us that cannot say words like anthropogenic as quickly
as we would like to?
Dr. Hutchins. Thank you, Senator. I accept the fact that
climate change is occurring. It has always occurred. So to the
degree that a large body of work exists that suggests that
humans are having an impact on acceleration of that change in a
particular direction, I accept that body of work. There are, of
course, individuals that have different perspectives and there
are individuals that, you know, the debate might be about the
rate and the specifics and the rest of it.
From a U.S. agricultural standpoint, what I would say is
two things. One is we can be--agriculture, as a ``we''--can be
a net partial solution to that, to help sequester the carbon,
to create the more green, to use best practices that are win-
win for the growers, such as cover crops and conservation
practices and the rest of it, and at the same time help
address, in some part, the sequestration.
The other thing I think that research specifically can do,
along with education extension, is help U.S. agriculture adapt
to what is happening. The kinds of breeding techniques that
exist today with technology and so forth will allow for growers
to have tools and to have ability to adapt to the kinds of
things they have. Many of the events are extreme events, and
difficult to adapt to, but in the bigger picture I think there
certainly can be a lot of progress to that.
So I do accept that there is a body of work there and I
think agriculture can be a very positive force in a healthy
Senator Brown. Thank you. I would have preferred you had
just said you accept that humans--that much of climate change
is human caused. I wish you had said that more directly than
the body of work. I know you know the administration tried to
bury the National Climate Assessment on the day after
Thanksgiving. That is sort of what administrations do in
reports they do not like, that found that climate change
threatened this report, written by the government, across 13
agencies, including USDA found that climate change threatens
our economy and our farms and our forests, and puts tens of
millions of Americans at risk.
You are nominated to oversee one of the most pre-eminent
science agencies in the Federal Government. Do you have any
reason to doubt this report?
Dr. Hutchins. I have no reason to doubt the report itself.
Senator Brown. The President does, if you saw, but you have
no reason to doubt this report.
Dr. Hutchins. I believe that the body of work that supports
that report is genuine, and I think the key part of the report
is what should we do about it. As I say, I think agriculture
can play a very positive role, and I think the mission area for
Research, Education, and Economics can play a very significant
Senator Brown. Would you answer this question, no matter
what the President says to attack this report, no matter what
the President says to undermine this report, you will stick to
your belief that you have no reason to doubt this report?
Dr. Hutchins. Senator, what the President says I think
would be based on some aspect of public policy that he would be
addressing. From a scientific standpoint----
Senator Brown. Perhaps.
Dr. Hutchins [continuing]. --from a scientific standpoint,
sir, what I would say is that I think that agriculture can tell
a positive story, and, if confirmed, it would be my pledge to
make sure that agriculture plays as much of a positive story in
that as possible.
Senator Brown. Thank you, and we will count on you on both
counts. Thanks, Dr. Hutchins.
Chairman Roberts. Has the Senator concluded?
Senator Brown. I yield.
Chairman Roberts. You should know that Reagann is taking
Senator Daines. Thank you, Chairman Roberts, Ranking Member
Stabenow. Thank you to the witnesses for being here today.
Dr. Brashears, as you know, this year has been an extensive
debate over which agency, either USDA or FDA, will regulate
cell-cultured meat products. In fact, just 2 weeks ago the FDA
and the USDA issued a statement announcing the joint regulation
of cell-cultured food products. The FDA is going to oversee the
cell collection, cell banks, cell growth, and differentiation.
Then the USDA will oversee the production and the labeling of
The question for you is, what difference, do you believe,
the USDA will anticipate when regulating production of these
products versus livestock harvested in the more traditional
Dr. Brashears. Thank you very much. That is a great
question. The No. 1 thing I see as a difference is not starting
from a live animal. So in this joint statement that the USDA
and FDA have put out, I really appreciate the approach they
have taken because the FDA will oversee the cell lines, and
that draws on their past regulatory oversight of cell-based
medical technologies. Then once a food product is made it moves
to USDA and we can draw on the strength of those of the USDA in
overseeing the actual food itself.
Now in saying that it is a good start this is, as you know,
out for public comment, and if I am confirmed I look forward to
looking at those comments and considering them very carefully
as we move ahead.
Also, we have a lot of scientific questions that need to be
answered. I have extensive experience in evaluating standards
of identity as well as studying processing systems and
identifying the hazards in those systems. We do not really
know, when we scale this up from a lab that is making
milligrams of product into a large-scale production, what is
going to happen on the food safety side, and we are going to
have to be very careful and have strong oversight of that.
Senator Daines. Thank you. This is important, and Montana
is a State, we have three cows per person, and we are proud of
that, Senator Hoeven.
Related to that, a further issue has arisen in labeling
products derived from livestock and poultry using animal cell
culture technology, limiting the terms of ``beef'' and ``meat''
to products derived from livestock that have been raised and
slaughtered in the traditional manner, for example. There have
been other terms used to label cell-cultured products. I am
going to use the kinder words here---clean meat, lab-grown
meat, fake meat. That term has been thrown out there.
My question for you is how do you believe these products
should be labeled to properly distinguish them from
traditionally raised livestock, while still alerting consumers
of the possible allergens contained in the product?
Dr. Brashears. Sure. Again, thank you for the question.
This goes back to the standard-of-identity question. We are
going to have to spend a lot of time to determine what this
label needs to be, because we do not have a lot of information
on the composition and functional properties in different
aspects, and we are going to have to evaluate that. I can tell
you that I am committed, as a scientist, to bring my expertise
to the table to evaluate that, to make sure we have an accurate
label that conveys the right message to the consumers so they
know where the product came from, what is the basis of the
production of this, and that is something I am very committed
to in this position.
Senator Daines. Thank you. I wanted to ask a question of
Ms. Earp, and I was very pleased to meet the next Senator from
Maryland, your niece Reagann here. She is getting some good
practice and she is off to a great start. She has a very firm
handshake and that is something I am going to try to teach my
children. She has got it. Reagann, welcome to the dais.
Ms. Earp, thank you for coming here today and thank you for
bringing Reagann and thank you for your willingness to serve.
As you know, there has been a history of problems within the
Forest Service related to harassment, sexual misconduct, and
retaliation, including instances in Montana.
My question for you is, do you have a zero-tolerance policy
for harassment, gender discrimination, and retaliation within
the USDA and the Forest Service?
Ms. Earp. Is there such a policy?
Senator Daines. Would you have a zero-tolerance policy.
Ms. Earp. Oh, yes. Absolutely. The Secretary currently has
a zero-tolerance policy on discrimination and I certainly would
attach myself to that, if confirmed.
Senator Daines. Thank you. Could you provide a written
update to my office regarding the steps the Forest Service has
taken to date to help ensure that the agency has a safe working
environment? It is a to-do. I am asking as a followup item. We
would just like to get an update on that, to ensure we do have
a safe working environment for its employees. I am out of time.
Ms. Earp. Yes, sir.
Senator Daines. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Roberts. Senator Klobuchar.
Senator Klobuchar. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank
you to all of you, and we are glad to have you here. I am going
to followup with Dr. Hutchins on some of the questions that
Senator Brown was asking about climate change. Like everyone
else, I was alarmed by that report. I specifically would like
to know what role you think the USDA's Research, Education, and
Economics mission area has in helping ag producers to adapt to
this. Also, would you support evidence-based tools that our
farmers need to be more resilient?
I know you said it was a positive--talking about being
positive--I mean, the report was not positive but what we are
facing in ag country. So what do you think the USDA can do
about it to help them adapt?
Dr. Hutchins. Thank you, Senator, for the question. So I
think there a number of things that could occur, some of which
in the best practice productivity area. I think I referenced a
couple of these things, such as cover crops and conservation.
One of the things the report made mention of as well that
would be supported long term would be how technologies, whether
they are driven by public sector or private sector
partnerships, can help farmers adapt and be part of that as
well, to ensure that they do not take the brunt of the changes.
One of the things that, per the report, that will likely
occur and makes perfect sense to me, as an entomologist, is
that we will see an increase in pestilence, we will see an
increase in invasive species, perhaps, or the expansion of
expansive species ranges. So the USDA can play a very critical
role, the remission area in particular, in terms of helping us
predict that, have a handle on that, and help address that
working partnership with APHIS and other agencies within USDA.
So I think the agency can play a very critical role in all
of those aspects.
Senator Klobuchar. Okay. Thank you. Dr. Brashears,
foodborne illness, very important in Senator Smith's and my
State. We also have a lot of research going on there. We were
hit hard by avian flu, by H1N1, and just by a number of other
diseases that have come our way. Are there lessons that the
Food Safety and Inspection Service can take from the outbreaks
to better regulate the safety of domestic and imported
Dr. Brashears. Could you repeat the question?
Senator Klobuchar. I am just asking about--I am mentioning
that these have affected us greatly, and just talking about
some of the diseases we have seen with animals, but also what
we have seen with products, and what you think we can learn
from how they have been handled in the past.
Dr. Brashears. Okay, sure. Thank you so much for clarifying
I think that, as a scientist, given my background, our
lessons learned are what we draw upon to make changes and to
make our food supply safer. We talk about our food supply being
the safest in the world, and I believe it is. The reason that
it is is we have taken action when we have seen a problem and
put controls in place to control our hazards that have occurred
and caused a public health threat, and I am definitely
dedicated to continuing that in my role with the agency.
Senator Klobuchar. So would you worked closely with the FDA
as well--I think that is part of this--on the food safety
Dr. Brashears. Oh, absolutely. From my understanding, we
have a good collaborative relationship with the FDA, but I
would like to continue that and strengthen it. I think we have
a great opportunity with the cultured meat product to
strengthen our relationship with them, to make sure that our
food is safe and we improve public health.
Senator Klobuchar. Okay. Can you talk about your own
experience with what--you know, how it is going to help with
what we have seen in the news, the E. coli, the salmonella,
Listeria, a lot of these foodborne illnesses that have come our
Dr. Brashears. Sure. I have really a tremendous amount of
hands-on experience in, No. 1, developing technologies that
reduce E. coli and salmonella in meat and poultry systems,
developing different--not only interventions but also just
methods of process, in changing the process to make sure that
our food is safe. I have worked with a number of small, very
small, and large companies, evaluating their systems and making
recommendations to make sure that their final product is safer
and that we have improved public health.
Senator Klobuchar. Okay. Thanks. Then, just last, back to
what I started with, with the animal outbreaks and what we have
seen, how do you think the Food Safety and Inspection Service
can contribute to preparation and response? How would you
ensure that the FSIS is working in a collaborative manner with
other USDA mission areas?
Dr. Brashears. I think that we have to have a large amount
of transparency among our different agencies and communication
in order--we cannot work in silos. We have to communicate,
because they are all interrelated and we have to make decisions
based on that communication network.
Senator Klobuchar. All right. Thank you. I will give you
some questions in writing, Ms. Earp, but for now I am just so
happy Reagann does not use her iPhone all the time, or maybe
even have one. It has just been a real pleasure. Every time I
look at her she actually makes eye contact, which the rest of
us do not do all the time, including myself. So thank you.
Chairman Roberts. Senator Klobuchar, I always pay attention
to you, and Reagann does as well.
Senator Hoeven. Me too, Chairman.
Dr. Brashears, if you would talk--I know Senator Daines
asked you about it, but it is very important that USDA has
oversight in labeling when it comes to any type of cell-based
meat products. In visiting with our ranchers, and particularly
cow-calf producers, in our State and in others across the
country, as well as the associations, you know, they want to
know that the consumer is going to know when they are buying,
you know, meat that is from animals that have been raised by
our fantastic ranchers across the country, which is a different
product--which is a different product than something that is
grown in a laboratory. They want to know, very clearly, that
that labeling is going to be done that way.
I understand FDA has a role, and I chair Ag Appropriations
and I get along great with Dr. Gottlieb and think he does a
great job. So I am talking to him about it too, and I
understand their food safety rule. When it comes to labeling
and in terms of this oversight issue, very, very important that
USDA has that role and that it is very clear as to what product
the consumer is buying.
So I want your thoughts on that, very specifically, in
regard to cell-based meat.
Dr. Brashears. I agree with you. I think the consumer has
to know if the product comes from livestock or if it is cell-
based, and I think that that will be an important message to
have on our labels. We have to have transparency with our
consumer. They have to know what they are eating, and that is
very important. It is an important aspect of this agency and it
is something that I am very committed to.
Senator Hoeven. Good. Thank you, Dr. Brashears. I
All right. Dr. Hutchins, a couple of questions for you.
First, talk about how we can do more to strengthen the already
incredible work done by NIFA. You know, our university-based ag
research has been phenomenal. We have North Dakota State
University. There might be some others at the head of the table
that would like to talk about their State universities. They
are doing such an incredible job for our farmers and our
ranchers, growing crops that we could not even grow before in
previous places--disease resistant, you know, higher yields,
all those things.
How do we continue to strengthen that effort and do more
Dr. Hutchins. Thank you for the question, Senator. The
fundamental and the basic mission of the land-grant
institutions is, in my mind, timeless. So I think the way we
would strengthen that is we would spend some time--and again,
please understand what I would like to do, if I am confirmed,
is understand exactly how those systems, the priorities and so
forth are set today, how the research programs are prioritized
Short of that, my philosophy would be to do several things.
One is to ensure that for the investments that we are making in
research that we have an end-to-end view. In other words, I am
a big believer in fundamental research, but that fundamental
sometimes, previously maybe referred to as basic research,
needs to have an end in mind in terms of how it would be
reduced to practice, and ultimately how it would be sustained.
So it would be research for the purpose of making a
difference and making a change. I know that a lot of the--
perhaps all of the NIFA programs do that today. To really
strengthen that and align that on the priorities of Congress
and on the priorities of the administration, whether it is in
the climate change impact or adaptation area or whether it is
in other areas.
Senator Hoeven. Well, and I would like to invite you to our
State, both to see what we are doing with NIFA but also with
ARS out at North Dakota State, both the research and the
extension aspect. I agree with you. That has got to be not only
the research but the extension aspect that gets it out to the
farmers and ranchers as well.
Dr. Hutchins. Absolutely. The whole world of digital is
changing and really opening up great new opportunities----
Senator Hoeven. Huge.
Dr. Hutchins [continuing]. and how it is delivered.
Senator Hoeven. Dynamic. So then talk for just a minute
about, USDA is looking at moving both NIFA and ERS out, you
know, outside of the District. That is something we worked with
on the funding site. So talk to me about your thoughts on how
that should be done and how you intend to be part of that
Dr. Hutchins. Well, the first thing I would like to do, if
I am confirmed, is really understand the work and the progress
that has been made to this point, the analysis, the
assessments. Because my interest would be to ensure, as I was
indicating earlier, is to ensure that the science does not
suffer, and that the great collaborative capabilities that NIFA
has developed, and ERS, with other agencies and other
departments, does not suffer.
So there are a number of ways to do that. As I have
indicated, I have been a part of a number of mergers. I have
been in a number of different activities. It is an individual-
by-individual look, but keeping an eye on the overall strategy.
The goals that the Secretary have outlined, I think, are the
So my pledge would be to make sure that it is done in a way
that is not disruptive and it is done in a way that actually,
in the long term, and even the short term, I think, can enhance
the capabilities and the effectiveness of those agencies.
Senator Hoeven. Right. Cost effective but always with the
idea of what best serves the farmer and the rancher out there.
I like to say, America benefits every day from our farmers and
ranchers, with the highest-quality, lowest-cost food supply in
the world, right? So I think you are right on in terms of how
you are approaching that and looking at it.
Dr. Hutchins. Thank you, sir.
Senator Hoeven. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Roberts. I thank the Senator. Senator Smith.
Senator Smith. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I know that
some of my colleagues are probably eager to get over to the
security briefing so I am going to submit most of my questions
for the record. I just have one question for Dr. Hutchins, if I
Dr. Hutchins, I want to draw your attention to the USDA
Agricultural Research Service Facility in Morris, Minnesota,
very important to Minnesota, which was slated to be closed in
the President's Fiscal Year 2019 budget request. This facility
houses the North Central Soil Conservation Research Laboratory,
which provides really important research on soil and water
quality and alternative crops also. Of course, at a time when
agriculture is under so much stress and also worries about
adapting to climate change it is particularly important.
So just really briefly, can you tell me whether you would
commit to advocating for the ARS facility in Morris to get the
funding that it needs, and would you support keeping that open?
Dr. Hutchins. Thank you, Senator. My first two years out of
graduate school were in the State of Minnesota, and so it was a
great experience. I have actually been to Morris. I cannot say
I specifically participated or been involved with the ARS
What I can commit to is really to understand the basis
behind the recommendations for all of the closures that are
outlined. There are, I believe, 90 ARS labs around the U.S.,
and some outside the U.S. So what I would commit to is really
understanding each one of those and the role that they play,
and then working to ensure that they are the most relevant and
having the biggest impact.
I can certainly commit to visiting and taking a personal
interest in understanding that particular lab.
Senator Smith. Well, I would urge you to visit it. It is a
very impressive facility. I am disappointed you cannot commit
to that but I look forward to continuing to have that
conversation with you.
Dr. Hutchins. I do as well. Thank you.
Senator Smith. Thank you.
Chairman Roberts. Thank you, Senator. Senator Gillibrand.
Senator Gillibrand. Hello. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is
lovely to see you all. I am delighted by our new Committee
member. I hope you stick around.
Chlorpyrifos is a pesticide known to harm brain development
in children. For Dr. Hutchins, your work--you currently work
for Corteva, a division of DowDuPont, that manufactures
chlorpyrifos. After the EPA refused to ban this pesticide,
against the recommendations of its own scientist, the Ninth
Circuit Court ruled that chlorpyrifos must be removed from the
market August 2018. Earlier this month, independent researchers
found that the data submitted by DowDuPont to get chlorpyrifos
approved in the U.S. and the EU contained significant errors
Do you support the permanent withdrawal of chlorpyrifos?
Dr. Hutchins. Thank you, Senator, for the question. I have
not been directly involved at all within the regulatory aspects
or the science behind that aspect. What I have been involved
with, over my career, is really the development of technologies
that would allow us to diversity out of that. By the way, I
have been retired from Corteva for several weeks now.
As I said, what I indicated is my focus and my aspects have
been in innovation and developing alternatives to all older
technologies. I do not--you know, the body of science in the
work that you are asking about really should be addressed by
the U.S. EPA.
Senator Gillibrand. If you are confirmed as chief
scientist, how will you ensure that data provided by industry
is accurate when they seek approval for products like C
treatments or biotechnology?
Dr. Hutchins. To the extent that the USDA would be
providing that data from a regulatory standpoint, certainly we
would focus on data-driven objective and clearly transparent
studies and data creation. Most of the REE agencies do not
provide the kind of data supported by regulatory, but to the
extent that it does I certainly would ensure that those
agencies participate in that transparent way.
Senator Gillibrand. I think it is fair to say that the
current administration has a problem accepting scientific
consensus. Just last week, the President denied the validity of
a congressionally mandated climate change report, drafted by
scientists across 13 different agencies. Farmers know better,
particularly farmers in upState New York and on Long Island.
They can see climate change in their fields and orchards. They
cannot ignore it because their livelihoods depend on adapting
as the world changes.
How would you ensure that the public can trust the
scientific integrity of the USDA research, given the
administrations habit of marginalizing and discrediting
scientists whose research runs counter to their political
Dr. Hutchins. Thank you. So what I would focus on would
really be on developing an advocacy and credibility for the
scientists themselves, and the science community, and ensuring
that the integrity of research, the integrity of the advocacy
for what the body of work is showing would be first and
Senator Gillibrand. Who does the chief scientist at USDA
serve--the President, the Secretary, the farmer, the industry,
or the public?
Dr. Hutchins. My answer would be it serves all of those, as
well as the scientific community.
Senator Gillibrand. When the interests of the
administration or industry conflicts with the public interest,
who should the chief scientist support?
Dr. Hutchins. Well, the chief scientist, I believe, support
in terms of the recommendations that are coming from the
scientists within that mission area, and whether they are part
of the REE mission area or whether they are part of the broader
Senator Gillibrand. Dr. Brashears, last week I wrote a
letter, with Senator Blumenthal, to Secretary Perdue, urging
him to disclose publicly the source of turkey contamination
with salmonella. This outbreak has made 164 people sick,
including a dozen in New York, and has been going on for more
than a year. While FSIS has issued a recall for one brand of
ground turkey products, Jennie-O, data released just yesterday
by the USDA showed that nearly 15 percent of all turkey
slaughter facilities have a failing grade when it comes to
salmonella. More than 10 different companies have a failing
Should FSIS allow companies to ship meat from a plant that
has been contaminated with a strain of salmonella known to be
implicated in an ongoing outbreak?
Dr. Brashears. Thank you for that question. At this time,
salmonella is a huge concern for me, as well as a mother and as
a consumer. I am glad that we have been able to trace back some
of the causes of the salmonella back to the Jennie-O recall. I
think that it is very important that the information we provide
the consumer is accurate and we get them the information that
they need to know how to--or which products are directly
associated with the outbreak, and then also get them the
information on how to properly handle the product.
Senator Gillibrand. Thank you. I will submit three other
questions on this topic for you, if you do not mind. I just
want to get to one question for our last witness.
Ms. Earp, the Des Moines Register reported that Secretary
Perdue's former chief of staff, Heidi Green, directly
intervened to require 4-H to withdraw a guidance document
intended to help 4-H leaders make LGBT youth feel more included
in the organization. A member of the USDA communications staff
went so far as to reach out to New York's 4-H leadership to
request they remove the guidelines they posted. The
administration has been repeatedly demonstrated a shocking
disdain for LGBT community.
Would it be appropriate for the Assistant Secretary of
Civil Rights to weigh in on this situation?
Ms. Earp. Thank you, Senator. I am not familiar with the 4-
H situation that you mentioned. I have not been briefed on it.
My professional and personal legacy is that every human being
is entitled to civility, respect, fairness, and equity.
Senator Gillibrand. Thank you, Ms. Earp. Thank you, Mr.
Chairman Roberts. Well, Reagann, it appears to me that we
are done. I am going to conclude the hearing today, unless you
have something to say to close this hearing.
Ms. Davis. I want to thank you for the opportunity for
letting me come up here and listen, and I just want to say that
all you guys did a good job today.
[Laughter and applause.]
Chairman Roberts. A star is born.
That will conclude our hearing today. I thank the nominees
for taking time to address this Committee and answer the
Committee's questions. We have learned a great deal today from
the nominees. Their testimony provides us significant
information, a solid basis upon which to report them favorably
out of the Committee. Per our rules, we cannot do that today
but we will endeavor to do so in the very near future.
To that end, I would request of my fellow members, if they
have any additional questions for the record that they be
submitted to the Committee clerk by 5 p.m. today, as of
November 28th. We look forward to receiving your responses and
to further considering your nominations.
The Committee is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 11:18 a.m., the Committee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
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DOCUMENTS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD
NOVEMBER 28, 2018
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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
NOVEMBER 28, 2018
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