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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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Farm bill is good fit for region's dairies

Dairy farmers have until Nov. 28 to sign up for the new Margin Protection Program under the new federal farm bill.

Winter Storm Atlas one year later

Gary Cammack says ranchers who stop in at his Cammack Ranch Supply store in Union Center, S.D., have been commenting about how the clouds, mist and fog in some of the waning days of September remind them of the weather just before the blizzard that hit the region Oct. 3 to 5, 2013.


Railroads report improved service progress

With wheat harvest in the late innings and soybean and corn harvests coming up, the region’s railroads are reporting better service progress.

Cramer: Canada issues conflicting responses to concerns about railway fines

U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., says he’s concerned about conflicting responses from the Canadian government about the impacts of fines on Canadian railroads for failing to meet grain quotas, and the impact on U.S. farmers who have seen tardy service.

Northstar delays $250 million canola plant in Okla.

Northstar Agri Industries — the Fargo, N.D.-based company that is expanding its two-year-old canola processing plant in Hallock, Minn. — confirms it is delaying its construction start for an even larger canola plant in Enid, Okla.

Watch out for Palmer amaranth weed this year

South Dakota farmers have discovered Palmer Amaranth weed and North Dakota officials are urging farmers to keep a sharp eye for a “spawn of evil” during harvest. South Dakota State University weed scientists say the weed was found in a sunflower field in Buffalo County next to the Missouri River in central South Dakota.


Western Sugar Cooperative linked to the Red River Valley

Western Sugar Cooperative of Denver, Colo., has some key links with the sugar industry in the Red River Valley of Minnesota and North Dakota.


Record sugar beet crop in Montana

Western Sugar Cooperative is going to have a big crop this year, and the biggest part of it will be in the Billings, Mont., production area.


Big Iron opener comes amid harvest, commodity price worries

The annual Big Iron Farm Show has operated among euphoric times in agricultural pricing many times in the past. Not this year. With corn prices projected around $3 per bushel for the next two or three years, farmers are scratching their heads and sharpening their pencils about how many new, big machines they’ll be able to afford.


Ag industry pleased with CHS fertilizer plant approval

North Dakota farmer-leaders say they’re happy CHS Inc. has decided to re-engage in a proposed $3 billion fertilizer project in Spiritwood, N.D., near Jamestown, N.D.


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Crop insurance

How many drought years will test program limits?


What's real and what's obscene?

FARGO, N.D. — The “pink slime” controversy brings to mind my days growing up, and my re-education about food at Brookings (S.D.) Middle School. It was there in the late 1960s and early 1970s that I first ate school lunch.

Is that pop champagne?

FARGO, N.D. — If farmers are the eternal optimists, then they may have more to be optimistic in 2012 than ever before. And more to be careful about, I would think.


100 years of history

FARGO, N.D. — My congratulations to the North Dakota Grain Dealers Association, which celebrated its 100th annual convention in January.


A prediction on American Crystal’s lockout situation

FARGO, N.D. — I’ve often been asked what I think the future of the labor lockout between American Crystal Sugar Co. and the Bakery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union locals. So here’s what I think.

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.