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Pates

Mikkel Pates

Mikkel Pates, reporter/columnist for Agweek magazine of Grand Forks, reports from Fargo, N.D., about agriculture in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
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Articles

Chicago supplier sues Energae for $81,000

A Chicago-area company has filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Energae LP, a Clear Lake, Iowa, “green energy” company that has sought funds from North Dakotans in the past five years.

BNSF promises help in railroad delay issues

Elevator operators are perennial critics of railroad service for hauling grain, but many say delays are worse than ever in the winter of 2013/2014.

Index: Land price increase slowed

An annual index of farm land values increased 17 percent in North Dakota in 2013, according to an annual report by a state land appraisers group.

Farm bill progress draws mixed reactions, as some groups lost on key issues

The conference committee version of what has become the 2014 farm bill offers long-term certainty, but garnered mixed reactions from producers and agricultural industry officials in the Upper Midwest, who lost on key points.

Rail service issues force American Crystal Sugar to slow production

American Crystal Sugar Co. says it is slowing down sugar production at three of its five factories immediately because of slow rail service. Some agricultural industry officials feel they’re losing out to oil traffic.

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Gas rationing affects American Crystal, ag processers

American Crystal Sugar Co. and other key agricultural processors in the region are affected by the rationing of natural gas prompted by a Saturday morning pipeline explosion in Manitoba.

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Peterson blames Grassley for farm bill heartburn

Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, announced at a meeting in Comstock, Minn., on Jan. 23, that the farm bill had hit another snag late in the day.

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Drones for farms a challenge, but popular topic at Precision Ag Summit

Topics at this year’s Precision Ag Action Summit in Jamestown, N.D., ranged from Google Glass, a technology for putting a smartphone into eyeglass frames, to unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), to the quality and ability to use data, which is becoming so voluminous that it has its own name — big data.

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Precision Ag Summit draws large crowd for third year

Google Glass takes center stage at the event, demonstrating how farmers use can use the "smartphone on your face."

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American Crystal appoints existing employees to new positions

American Crystal Sugar Co. in Moorhead, Minn., has announced management structure changes: two promotions and two moving to new areas of responsibility.

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Columns

Bees and a book

FARGO N.D. — Honeybees are important — certainly to my family. I occasionally had a firsthand experience with a commercial honeybee business that was run by my mother’s first cousin, Jim Folsland, in Oldham, S.D., in Kingsbury County.

Accidents happen when people get in a hurry

FARGO, N.D. — May 5, I drove from Fargo, N.D., to Bismarck, N.D., to cover a court hearing the next morning. It was a beautiful evening, but it was clear that the fields were too wet for this time of year. Almost none of the field work had been done. I counted two planting rigs operating across that 180-mile stretch. I think there was one outfit planting potatoes.

Does tiling cut flooding?

FARGO, N.D. — My wife and I are contemplating another season of flood fighting in south Fargo, N.D. We’ve helped fill sandbags each year for the past two years but never had to place them around our property. In 2009, I helped a family friend put 30,000 of them around his Moorhead, Minn., house. Lloyd is one of the greatest of the Greatest Generation, in my book, and appreciated the help. He’ll get it again this year if he needs it.

New year guesses can entertain, guide us

FARGO, N.D. — My wife, Barb, and I have an annual New Year’s ritual — Our Predictions.

What does humane production mean?

FARGO, N.D. — I always am fascinated with recommendations from groups like the Humane Society of the United States.

Candidates tout ag connections

FARGO, N.D. — Agriculture = good. If you don’t believe it, look at the year’s crop of political ads. This year, I took special notice of ads by Brad Crabtree, candidate for the North Dakota Public Service Commission.

Agriculture needs its honest info brokers

FARGO, N.D. — Historically, ethics has been an important thing in journalism. I hope ethics isn’t becoming passe in the “today’s economy.”

‘Nutrient density’ and other dense ideas

FARGO, N.D. — I read with interest a July 8 release from Organic Trade Association, which criticizes a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture draft Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 2010. The OTA complains that the guidelines say there is limited research on “nutrient density” comparisons between organic and conventionally raised food.

Coffee and the meaning of life

FARGO, N.D. — My sympathies to the entire family of Helen M. Broten of Dazey, N.D. Helen died at age 93 June 16, leaving the families of three daughters and a son.

A weird few days

FARGO, N.D. — Recently, I ran into a fellow who alerted me to big things happening with genetically modified wheat. GM wheat made me think about cures for Fusarium head blight or “scab,” which was the scourge of wheat producers in the region in the mid-1990s — and that reminded me of how I acquired Bailey, the older of the two of my tri-color English setter dogs. Bailey turned 12 on April 21.