By Ministry of Agriculture Staff
The Ministry of Agriculture is changing how it delivers extension services to better meet the needs of farmers, ranchers and agri-businesses, both now and into the future.
The new model maintains the existing structure of 10 Regional Offices in their current locations around the province, while incorporating a number of changes aimed at ensuring the Ministry is delivering services that support the sustainable growth of the agriculture industry.
Extension services delivery will focus on three key priorities:
- Research and technology transfer - Extending research outcomes and technology producers need to be sustainable and competitive;
- Program delivery - Delivering programs to ensure clients have the tools they need to adopt sound management practices and drive economic growth; and
- Public trust – Ensuring producers do the right thing on their farm, mitigating risks to their social licence and building public trust.
To advance these priorities, regional specialists will focus on five specialty areas, including: Agricultural Program Specialists; Agri-Environmental Specialists; Livestock and Feed Extension Specialists; Crops Extension Specialists; and Range Management Extension Specialists.
There will be a move away from a dedicated farm business management unit, with a shift to increasing understanding of agriculture programs and providing support to producers in accessing programs and funding. The new extension delivery model is designed to advance the new federal-provincial Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) programs, which will be implemented to replace Growing Forward 2 programs ending March 31, 2018. More information about CAP programs will be featured in the May edition of Agriview and on Saskatchewan.ca as details are available.
The Agriculture Knowledge Centre in Moose Jaw will continue to play a vital role in providing timely answers to producers with general questions. Ministry Regional Offices are also located in the communities of North Battleford, Prince Albert, Tisdale, Kindersley, Outlook, Watrous, Yorkton, Weyburn and Swift Current. The staff complement in each Regional Office will be tailored to the needs of the region.
The Ministry will no longer maintain its seven satellite offices, where specialist services were offered by-appointment (Shaunavon, Assiniboia, Estevan, Moosomin, Wadena, Meadow Lake and Lloydminster). Continuing to retain these facilities was not economical. Specialists will continue to provide service to producers across their respective regions, including individual meetings, extension events and demonstration/applied research projects in a variety of locations.
The changes to agriculture extension services follow a review the Ministry undertook throughout 2017, which included a public survey last March that received responses from more than 750 stakeholders, as well as producer focus group discussions.
Survey respondents indicated that, in many cases, the Ministry is a trusted source of unbiased information across a variety of topic areas, such as research and production. Focus group participants identified the continued necessity of having an unbiased source of information, the need for enhanced research and technology transfer, better access to and understanding of available funding programs and continued public trust efforts as priorities the province should consider in a future service delivery model.
The feedback received through that external consultation process, along with the internal analysis and review of existing services, helped determine the new extension delivery model. A summary of the online survey results are available on Saskatchewan.ca/government/public-consultations under “past consultations.”
As part of the update to extension services, the Ministry has also reorganized the agriculture pages at Saskatchewan.ca/agriculture for easier navigation. Changes to how the Ministry provides printed information are also coming, in order to better serve farmers, ranchers and agri-businsses. This includes more online news delivery, with www.saskatchewan.ca/sask-ag-now the future home for Ministry agriculture news, timely agronomic information, trade and market development updates and more. Agriview will also shift its focus to longer, feature stories relevant to the success of today’s agriculture community. Regional Stay Connected e-newsletters will continue to deliver region-specific updates to producers.
For more information, contact:
The Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-(866) 457-2377