Sask. ag minister to step down from cabinet

Saskatchewan’s minister of agriculture says he intends to step away from the provincial cabinet table whenever it’s next shuffled.

Bob Bjornerud, the MLA for the southeastern riding of Melville-Saltcoats, was one of the founding members of the province’s governing Saskatchewan Party and has been Premier Brad Wall’s ag minister since 2007.

A provincial government spokesman said there are no immediate plans for a cabinet shuffle and there likely won’t be one until later this spring or summer.

Bjornerud farms near Saltcoats and had previously spent some time in the mining industry at nearby Esterhazy. He served on the Saltcoats rural municipality’s council for 14 years, including seven as reeve.

He first went to the provincial legislature as a Liberal MLA in 1995 and joined the coalition of Progressive Conservatives and Liberals who formed the Saskatchewan Party in 1997, serving in its shadow cabinet as agriculture critic, municipal affairs critic and party whip.

Bjornerud was re-elected in what’s now Melville-Saltcoats in 1999, 2003, 2007 and again last year.

"In that time I have thoroughly enjoyed working with farmers, ranchers and industry groups, and thanks to their work there is more optimism in the industry than ever before," he said in a statement Wednesday.

"Although I will miss the job, I look forward to spending more time with my family," said Bjornerud, who has three children and six grandchildren.

Wall’s caucus has a relatively deep pool of farmers and former farmers from which to draw a new ag minister, including current cabinet members such as Finance Minister Ken Krawetz, Energy Minister Bill Boyd, Health Minister Don McMorris, Education Minister Donna Harpauer and Social Services Minister June Draude, and the legislature’s speaker, Dan D’Autremont.

"We have many new, young MLAs in our government caucus, and many with strong rural and agriculture backgrounds," Bjornerud noted Wednesday.

"I’m certain the next agriculture minister will be more than capable of the job and will bring new ideas to the table."

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