ASI Call to Action – Appropriations and H-2A

March 6, 2015

This has been a busy week for legislative efforts at the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI). Two Call to Actions have been issued to the leadership to contact House and Senate members as soon as possible.

2016 Appropriations. The House Agriculture and Interior Appropriations Subcommittees notified members of the U.S. House of Representatives that they have until close of business on Monday, March 23, to submit funding, program and policy requests for the fiscal year 2016 appropriations cycle.

Sheep industry priorities include:

  • Oppose the proposed closure of the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station and increase grazing related sheep research;
  • Provide no less than $19 million for small ruminant health within the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Veterinary Service’s “Equine, Cervid and Small Ruminant” Health line;
  • Provide no less than FY 2015 appropriation for Wildlife Damage Management; and
  • Support bill and report language requiring suitable alternative allotments for sheep operators whose permits in bighorn habitat are subject to being reduced and the use of sound science in the decision criteria.

H-2A Special Procedures. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) was sued by four former H-2A herders in 2013 challenging the “special procedures” of the H-2A worker program. Western Range Association and Mountain Plains Association of Sheepherders joined the lawsuit on behalf of the DOL to defend the special procedures. Initially, the case was dismissed because the herders could not show that they were injured by the special procedures. The appeals court reversed that dismissal and directed the DOL to go through notice and comment rulemaking for the herding special procedures. Under the schedule set by the court, the DOL must issue a proposed rule for comments by April 15.

Feedback from Washington, D.C., indicates the rule that the DOL is to propose will be a disaster for the sheep industry; unraveling a program that has worked so well for decades. It is critical that your congressional offices contact the DOL quickly requesting that the proposed rule maintain the special procedures.

Full details of these Call to Actions and all briefing documents needed for talking with congressional delegations are available through the Legislative Action Center at www.sheepusa.org.

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