In a letter to Rep. Robert Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) communicated qualified support of H.R. 1773, the Agriculture Guestworker Act (AG Act) of 2013. The committee version provides multi-year contracts for guest workers, which is a key requirement of the current H-2A sheepherder program.
ASI relays for full industry support that special procedures of the sheepherder program should be codified including a standard of mobile housing units as supplied by employers due to the vast and remote areas in which producers herd and manage livestock.
"ASI supports efforts to codify the special procedures that have been available to the sheep industry under H-2A in a new, market-based agricultural guest worker program as nearly one-third of the nation's sheep production depends on foreign sheep herders," stated president Clint Krebs. "The sheep industry has among the highest level of legal and documented foreign workers of American agriculture. The regulations permitting ranchers to employ sheep herders on a multi-year, uninterrupted basis under the H-2A program have been widely for decades and are what makes the program successful."
ASI also encourages the provisions that would allow an individual employer to file visa program applications on his/her own behalf or in conjunction with an association of employers. The sheep industry supports the continuation of the special procedure used for sheepherder wages.
ASI urges Congress to incorporate the special procedures available to sheep herders under the H-2A program into H.R. 1773 to ensure that the new H-2C program continues these successful features of the existing guest worker program for the nation's lamb and wool producing farm and ranch families. Krebs relayed that the association has asked its legislative council and its subcommittee on H-2A to request the support of their U.S. Representatives to incorporate the sheep industry in the AG Act.