Some 14 million Americans are jobless, but there just aren’t enough qualified sheepherders or goatherders to meet demand. The federal government, therefore, is allowing ranchers to “import” foreign shepherds to temporarily tend their flocks, but only if they comply with the full range of regulations specified by the official Labor Certification Process for Employers Engaged in Sheepherding and Goatherding Occupations.
For 60 years, in fact, the federal government has actually regulated sheep and goat shepherds to ensure that nonimmigrant foreign workers don’t dare deprive Americans of the job. The U.S. Department of Labor issued a revised set of rules on August 4 (Training and Employment Guidance Letter No. 32-10).
Any rancher hoping to hire a non-American sheepherder or goatherder must submit an application to federal and state officials no more than 75 calendar days and no less than 60 calendar days before the “date of need.” For each application, a prospective employer must attest: “(1) there are not sufficient able, willing, and qualified U.S. workers available to perform the herding tasks; and (2) employment of a foreign shepherd will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.”
(In the event a “State Workforce Agency” somehow unearths an American shepherd available for the job, a prospective employer must attempt to place the qualified applicant in the geographic area of his or her choice within three working days of a telephone interview.)
For purposes of the enforcing the rules, the government has established an official shepherd job description:
Attends sheep and/or goat flock grazing on the range or pasture. Herds flock and rounds up strays using trained dogs. Beds down flock near evening campsite. Guards flock from predatory animals and from eating poisonous plants. Drenches sheep and/or goats. May examine animals for signs of illness and administer vaccines, medications and insecticides according to instructions. May assist in lambing, docking, and shearing. May perform other farm or ranch chores related to the production and husbandry of sheep and/or goats on an incidental basis.
Needless to say, ranchers must pay no less than the “prevailing wage” as established for each state. Employment of a foreign shepherd cannot exceed one year, although a request for short-term extension may be submitted for approval to the Department of Homeland Security.
Other requirements include:
- The employer must provide each shepherd a cell phone, satellite phone, or radio transmitter at no charge.
- The description of anticipated hours of work must state “on call for up to 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.”
- The employer must provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage in all states where the sheepherding and/or goatherding work will be performed.
- The employer must provide workers with three meals a day without charge.
- The employer must cover all travel costs to and from the place of employment.
For Washington, D.C., in this day and age, to be micromanaging sheepherding and goatherding—as with the unchecked regulatory impositions on most every aspect of daily life—brings to mind an exhortation of Norman Vincent Peale: “Once we roared like lions for liberty; now we bleat like sheep for security!”
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