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Saskatchewan agricultural specialists at satellite extension offices are now available to meet with producers only by appointment.

Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart confirmed March 29 that the seven satellite offices in Shaunavon, Assiniboia, Estevan, Moosomin, Wadena, Meadow Lake and Lloydminster will remain open but will not be fully staffed as of April 1.

In response to a question from NDP leader Ryan Meili, he said there would be no job losses.

He said the decision was made after a consultation on extension services. Many producers are now accessing information online or through private agrologists.

“There’s no real change from what we’ve been doing,” he told reporters.

“The seven offices in 2016 had 17 visits all together so I don’t think this is going to cause a hardship for anybody.”

Ten regional offices remain in place in Moose Jaw, Kindersley, North Battleford, Prince Albert, Outlook, Tisdale, Swift Current, Yorkton, Watrous and Weyburn, as does the Moose Jaw-based Ag Knowledge Centre.

Stewart said the satellite offices are generally located in other government offices, such as crop insurance, and that’s why they aren’t technically closing.

He added that this decision is nothing like the 2004 budget decision by the then-NDP government to close 22 full extension offices and lay off 120 people.

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