Sheep shearers

Sara Hossani

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.

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.

Rebecca Martinez

The American sheep industry has exploded in recent years, causing many producers to expand their operations. But more sheep means more people are needed to shear them, and the number of professional shearers has declined over the decades. Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez tagged along with a Wyoming-based shearer during a gig in Douglas and filed this report.