In remarks on Thursday at the annual USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said that U.S. agriculture faces challenges including regulation, trade, and a legal workforce.

Perdue said that he has been working to convey to White House staff the reality of the need for farm workers. “Agriculture is caught in the crossfire of the immigration debate,” he noted.

“The current H-2A is cumbersome, convoluted and does not work for many producers,” Perdue said. “We could have a better system,” he added.

Perdue also said that “the people who come to America to work on farms and ranches are not taking jobs from Americans.”  “They are not the ones putting a burden on the criminal justice system or welfare system.”   “There are people that would like to come to United States on a temporary basis to work, not to become citizens,” Perdue added.

Perdue also indicated that he has hired Kristi Boswell, former American Farm Bureau Federation immigration specialist, to work on the farm immigration issue full time.