Pro-Labor Outsourcing Lobbyist Joins Trump’s Agriculture Dept

Migrant workers harvest strawberries at a farm March 13, 2013 near Oxnard, California.
File Photo: JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images
Washington, D.C.

A lobbyist for a farming organization that favors outsourcing American jobs to foreign workers will become a senior adviser in President Donald Trump’s Agriculture Department.

Kristi Boswell will serve as the Senior Advisor to Agriculture Secretary-nominee Sonny Perdue, working primarily on immigration and labor issues, according to POLITICO.

Currently, Boswell is a registered lobbyist with the American Farm Bureau Federation, an organization that promotes the expansion of foreign guest worker programs like the H-2B visa, which outsources low-skill American jobs to foreign labor.

Boswell’s appointment to work on immigration and labor issues for Trump’s Agriculture Department has pro-American immigration hawks concerned. Center for Immigration Studies’ David North, who called the appointment “bad news.”

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.

The H-2B visa brings foreign nationals to the U.S. for low-skilled nonagricultural jobs, as Breitbart Texas reported. The visa impacts working-class and poor Americans most, as labor jobs in the hotel industry, water parks, retail stores and restaurants can all outsource jobs to foreign workers under the program. Foreign workers using H-2B visas took more than half a million jobs in the U.S. during the last five years.

As the largest agricultural, pro-foreign worker outsourcing lobbying organization, the American Farm Bureau Federation is certainly at odds with pro-American worker advocates in the administration, as the group regularly touts a “labor shortage” for seasonal, low-skilled jobs.

“Farmers and ranchers need a reliable, skilled workforce. Farm work is challenging, often seasonal and transitory, and it’s not easy to find American workers to take on these jobs,” the organization cites on their website. Farm labor can’t all be replaced by machines either. There are certain farm jobs, like tending livestock and pruning or picking fresh produce, which require a human touch. Where American workers are unwilling or unavailable, workers from other countries have stepped in.”

But, it’s not just the current foreign worker visa programs that the organization wants to expand. The American Farm Bureau Federation has been lobbying Congress for years now to create a new foreign worker visa.

H-2B visa expert Steven Camarota, though, studied the “labor shortage” claim by groups like the American Farm Bureau Federation and found no evidence to support it.

Boswell will leave her job at the American Farm Bureau Federation on May 1 and begin working with the Agriculture Department.

John Binder is a contributor for Breitbart Texas. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.