Tim Arrowsmith, owner of Western Grazers, a goat-herding business in northern California, joined "Fox News Tonight" to express his concerns over his state's labor law set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024, warning that if a "fix" couldn't be reached, he would need to "get rid of" all his goats.
Goats have been used in California to manage the growth of vegetation for government agencies and private landowners, which could create what Arrowsmith described as a "cold fire or a cool fire that crawls along the ground" or prevent wildfires altogether.
Fox News contributor Johnny "Joey" Jones explained how goat herders use "targeted grazing" as a solution to wildfires that "ravage" California communities.
These businesses rent out goats to clear vegetation that could fuel wildfires, and goat herders might face a pay hike that would price them out of their jobs.
Arrowsmith said "goat and sheep herders [had] been recognized as the same occupation in the state of California," which allowed for both goat and sheep herders to receive a monthly minimum wage as opposed to a minimum wage for all hours worked.
However, he said, the Department of Industrial Relations and the Employment Development Department reread the law in 2022 and deemed it said nothing about goat herders, just sheep herders.
Arrowsmith said the new interpretation would mean goat herders would receive an "hourly rate, time-and-a-half, double time, sleep time," and more, adding up to "well over $14,000 a month."
A proposed bill in the California State Assembly, AB 1099, aimed at addressing the situation. The bill put forth an amendment to maintain the current monthly minimum wage system in place for a "goat herder employed on a regularly scheduled 24-hour shift on a seven-day-a-week ‘on-call’ basis."
However, the committee to which the bill was filed "refused to hear the bill and wouldn't give it a hearing, so the bill died," Arrowsmith said.
The cost of this change, Arrowsmith argued, would be untenable.
"I couldn't pass that cost onto cities or, you know, utilities or whatever," he said. "They'd think we're nuts to raise our rates that high."
Arrowsmith added: "We're hoping to work with a budget trailer period and be able to try to fix this between now and August."
"If we don't, after August, we start selling, we look for a place to get rid of all these goats."