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USCIS Issues H-2A Policy Memo

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Thursday published a policy memorandum that requires requests for temporary foreign workers for range sheep or goat herding or production be subject to the same requirements as other temporary agricultural workers.

USCIS is issuing this PM to ensure that H-2A non-immigrant sheep/goat herders may only fill temporary and/or seasonal herder positions, and that petitioners filing petitions for permanent sheep/goat herders comply with the requirements applicable to permanent positions.

Under the PM, H-2A sheep/goat herder petitions will be subject to the same temporary or seasonal need analysis that applies to all other H-2A petitions, and petitions seeking to hire H-2A sheep/goat herders for 364-day, back-to-back periods (or similarly lengthy, consecutive periods for the same job duties for a sheep/goat herder position) with no material or meaningful break between them will not be approved if the petitioner cannot prove it has a temporary or seasonal need for the workers. This PM will ensure that USCIS consistently applies H-2A regulations on temporariness and seasonality to H-2A sheep/goat herder petitions, and that the wages and working conditions of similarly situated United States workers are not depressed by the employment of H-2A temporary workers.

This PM will assist in safeguarding the integrity of the H-2A program, which was intended for agricultural labor or services that are temporary or seasonal in nature. Adjudicating the temporariness and seasonality of H-2A sheep/goat herder petitions with the same criteria as other H-2A petitions will also support consistency and fairness while protecting the interests of United States workers (for example, their wages and job opportunities). The PM is not intended to alter current policy or practice for the adjudication of non-sheep herding or goat herding H-2A petitions, but to ensure that USCIS adjudicates all H-2A sheep/goat herder petitions on a case-by-case basis, considering the totality of the facts presented, and in the same manner as all other H-2A petitions, consistent with the Immigration and Nationality Act and existing regulations.

Effective June 1, 2020, USCIS will adjudicate any Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, filed by petitioners seeking H-2A sheep/goat herder positions in line with this PM. USCIS believes the future effective date allows H-2A petitioners to amend their practices, as necessary.

This PM is being issued in response to a lawsuit brought by worker advocates challenging USCIS adjudications of H-2A sheep herding and goat herding petitions and the D.C. Circuit’s order in that case. Hispanic Affairs Project v. Acosta, 901 F.3d 378, 386 (D.C. Cir. 2018). USCIS agrees with the order and interprets the D.C. Circuit Court’s opinion as indicating that consecutive, back-to-back 364-day approvals of H-2A sheep/goat herder petitions (or similarly lengthy, consecutive periods for the same job duties for a sheep/goat herder position) with no material or meaningful break between them would violate the INA and Department of Homeland Security regulations, absent a petitioner establishing that its need is in fact seasonal or temporary.

USCIS welcomes comments on the PM, the proposed effective date, potential cost savings or increases, impacts on filing practices, and other topics that are the focus of this PM via the Policy Memoranda for Comment page. USCIS will review and consider all comments received during the 30-day comment period from Nov. 14 to Dec. 14, 2019, and may subsequently publish a revised PM, as needed. The guidance contained in the PM will be controlling and will supersede any prior guidance regarding the determination of temporary or seasonal need for H-2A sheep and goat herder petitions.

Sheep industry representatives are encouraged to file comments on the policy memo before the deadline of Dec. 14.

Click Here to read the full policy memo.


Just Two Weeks Until Baler Grant Deadline

The American Sheep Industry Association is again offering a grant program of $5,000 to five shearers, warehouses or individuals to assist with the purchase of a wool press in 2020. The shearers will cover the bulk of the costs associated with their press purchase, but ASI seeks to assist as much as possible.

Grant applications are due by Nov. 30.

As freight costs are a significant expense to the American wool industry, the ASI Wool Council developed the Wool Baler Program to incentivize the domestic production and purchase of wool presses. This project aims to encourage the use of presses that can be maintained and repaired in the United States, produce bales that are a standard size and emphasize the importance of proper wool bale weights to producers, shearers, warehouseman, pools and co-ops.

While assisting shearers and others directly, the program supports American sheep producers by allowing them to generate better returns on their wool clips. Producers will also benefit as the new presses will replace older presses that are prone to delay-causing breakdowns.

Grant recipients will be required to submit a final report – including photos or videos – and documentation that the baler meets all program requirements. Requirements include: the baler must be made in the United States, it must produce an average bale weight of between 400 and 500 pounds, produce a uniform bale size of 32 inches by 52 inches, and come equipped with all necessary safety features.

Click Here for more information.


Australian Market See-Saws to Slight Gains

The Australian wool market performed erratically once again in Week 20, recording positive then negative movements within the same series.

The Fremantle region recorded price rises on the last selling day of the previous series, resulting in many of the individual Fremantle merino Micron Price Guides finishing at higher levels than the closing levels of the Eastern markets. From the opening lots in Sydney and Melbourne this week, prices jumped above Fremantle’s closing levels, then proceeded to slowly but noticeably increase. By the end of the day’s selling, the merino MPGs rose by 32 to 65 cents. On the back of these rises, the AWEX Eastern Market Indicator added 25 cents for the day. Only minimal movements in the crossbred sector prevented the EMI from recording a larger increase. The Fremantle MPGs rose by 25 to 39 cents, bringing all three centers closer to alignment.

On the second day of selling, the market contracted. The individual MPGs across the country lost between 4 and 31 cents. The EMI lost only 6 cents, and this time minimal movement in the crossbred MPGs prevented the EMI from a larger loss. Despite the second-day losses, the EMI still managed to record an overall positive movement for the series – rising by 19 cents – to close the week at 1,574 Australian cents. Worth noting, due to currency movement, when viewed in U.S.$ terms, the EMI had only a 2-cent rise.

The crossbred sector had a lackluster series, recording minimal changes of generally between 5 and 10 cents of the previous MPGs with movements in both directions. The skirtings followed a similar path to the fleece – price rises on the first day, followed by losses on the second. The price rises have enticed some sellers back to the market as the national quantity increases for next week. Currently, there are 40,726 bales available for sale in Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle.

Source: AWEX


Idaho Searching for Sheep Center Manager

The University of Idaho has an opening for a full-time sheep center manager at the Palouse Research, Extension and Education Center in Moscow, Idaho.

The Manager is a non-faculty, exempt position that is responsible for all operations at the PREEC Sheep Unit. This person is responsible for supervising, training, evaluating and setting schedules for benefit-eligible and temporary employees at the sheep unit. The manager ensures current SOP protocols are updated and adhered to for all operation tasks. The manager manages the sheep unit budget and expenditures, ensuring expenditures are appropriate and accurate. Along with the animal and feed mill manager, superintendent of the PREEC, and the animal and veterinarian department head, the manager is responsible for maintaining a year-end balanced budget for all unit budgets. The manager will occasionally be asked to provide management relief at the UI dairy, feed mill and beef units, and assist with other PREEC activities.

Required qualifications include: a bachelor’s degree in animal science, agriculture or related field at time of hire and at least two years of experience handling and working with large animals; experience in computerized record keeping and basic research principles; maintaining accurate records and managing budgets; experience working with diverse individuals; communicating effectively in writing; supervising and training others; and a valid driver’s license and be able to pass a driver’s record check.

The application closing date is Dec. 8.

Click Here for more information and to apply. 


Video of the Week

Is there anything more fun to watch than sheep on the move? Check out the moving hillside from Camino and Sons in Wyoming.

Click Here to watch the video. 

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