New California labor rules covering goat herders threaten efforts to combat wildfire. Many areas in the state use goats to reduce overgrown vegetation that could fuel fires by eating it. Goat companies have traditionally paid herders a monthly salary and provided them a place to live near the grazing site because the job requires them to be on call 24 hours a day. But the state labor commission recently ruled that goat herders must be paid like farm workers, which entitles them to overtime and other benefits. Goat companies say that will increase a goat herder’s monthly pay from around $4,000 to over $14,000. They say that will drive up the cost of providing goats and will likely put many of them out of business.
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