ASI Calls for DOL to Reevaluate H-2A Changes
The American Sheep Industry Association, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council wrote to the Department of Labor this week to request that it reevaluate the economic impact of proposed changes to the H-2A sheepherder program.
“For well over fifty years, the livestock industry has relied on a legal guest workforce,” the groups wrote in a letter to Brian Pasternak, administrator for the Office of Foreign Labor Certification. “In fact, the American sheep industry pioneered the first guest herder program, in what would only later become the current H-2A guest worker program. While the program has undergone a number of changes in that time, our industries’ need for seasonal guest herders has not changed.
“While ASI, NCBA and PLC understand the implication of the court’s holding in the Hispanic Affairs Project litigation, and the department’s need for this rulemaking in light of the settlement reached in that matter, we believe the department has the latitude to ensure this program continues to work to serve the needs of the livestock industry and the interests of the American public.
“Both the cost of and access to skilled and qualified labor remain one of the largest impediments to the growth of the United States’ livestock inventory, our member’s ability to produce high-quality meat and fiber, and our ability to compete globally. Since the litigation, our members have seen their costs in securing sufficient labor increase significantly. This is not only a financial burden that renders our producer members less competitive, but it has also added a tremendous recordkeeping and administrative burden that is being borne by our producers and those agencies that help them secure needed guest herders.
“We believe that the proposed rule’s ‘economic impact’ section fails to assess the actual cost of this rule to livestock producers. As such, we urge the department to reevaluate that section in the final rule to consider the comments submitted by our members and affiliated organizations, specifically Mountain Plains Agriculture Service and Western Range Association.”
Click Here to read the full letter.