Rule Could Cause Problems For Wyoming Sheep Producers
Last Monday saw the close of the public comment period concerning a proposed rule put forth by the U.S. Department of Labor that could cause serious harm to Wyoming’s sheep industry. Currently, most sheep herders in Wyoming are foreign and hold what are called H-2A visas. Under those visas, they are required to be paid $750-dollars a month and be provided room and board.
The Department of Labor determined that wage was much too low and put forth a new requirement that would more than triple that rate of pay to $2400 a month plus room and board. Some in the sheep industry expected the wages to go up, but not this month. It might lead to fewer foreign workers, but many say it could be a serious blow to the domestic sheep industry.
A University of Wyoming team of Ag economists recently studied the economic impacts of the new rule. John Ritten was part of that team and he tells me that it comes at a time when the industry is struggling.