© 2024 Wyoming Public Media
800-729-5897 | 307-766-4240
Wyoming Public Media is a service of the University of Wyoming
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Transmission & Streaming Disruptions

Labor Rules Likely Will Put Some Wyo Sheep Producers Out Of The Business

Rebecca Martinez
Wyoming Public Radio

The U.S. Department of Labor is considering whether to institute a new rule that would raise the required pay of foreign sheep herders with visas.

The rule would increase pay from $750 dollars a month plus room and board to $24-hundred dollars a month plus room and board. Those in the sheep industry say the increase could put them out of business and they apparently aren’t crying wolf.

University of Wyoming Ag Economist John Ritten and others studied the impact the rules would have on Wyoming producers and they doubt there is any way they would make enough money to make up for the increase in wages. 

"The sheep industry is going to have a drastic impact due to this. The sheep numbers have been steadily declining since the 1960’s anyway and this just one more detriment to the industry. It’s gonna have a major impact and sheep numbers are going to go down if this go into effect just because we can’t cover the costs."

Ritten adds that producers are operating on a thin margin already and this change could do them in.

"What that looks like in the short term is that there’s going to be a lot of people that go out of business, in the long term we expect to see some sort of industry shift towards other animals that are less reliant on herders."

Ritten says it’s next to impossible to find U.S. workers to take these jobs. The governor and the Wyoming Woolgrowers Association are among those who have asked the Department of Labor to reconsider. Public comment ended Monday.

Bob Beck retired from Wyoming Public Media after serving as News Director of Wyoming Public Radio for 34 years. During his time as News Director WPR has won over 100 national, regional and state news awards.
Related Content