Bad News: Department of Agriculture Hires Immigration Expert from the Farm Bureau

By David North, April 21, 2017

In another indication of the differing level of commitment to U.S. workers by the Trump administration, it has been announced that a lobbyist for the American Farm Bureau Federation has been hired by the new Secretary of Agriculture to work on immigration and labor matters.

She is Kristi Boswell, and it is highly likely that she will push to get agribusiness the workers it wants, including foreign workers at the minimal wages it wants to pay. That certainly is the posture of the Farm Bureau, the largest of the agricultural lobbying organizations.

Her appointment is bad news for anyone wanting to contain the growth of the H-2A (foreign farm worker) program, which was loosely enough administered by Obama's Department of Labor. There were 283,500 admissions (though there is some double counting) of H-2A workers in 2015, the last year for which we have data.

Boswell will work for Secretary of Agriculture-designee, Sonny Perdue, the former GOP governor of Georgia, who is a first cousin of one of that state's senators, David Perdue (R-Ga.).

Speaking of last names, Boswell may well be related to Stewart Boswell, the all-too-skilled agri-business lobbyist I tangled with 50 years ago when I worked on farm labor issues for the then Secretary of Labor W. Willard Wirtz. Biographical material on the internet does not touch on this point.