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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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ND House ag panel gives anti-corporate bill do-pass

North Dakota’s House Agriculture Committee on March 6 voted 8-5 to recommend a do-pass on a bill that would create exemptions for dairy and swine in the state anti-corporate farming law.

ND Senate Ag Committee hears testimony on state check-off increase

The North Dakota Senate Agriculture Committee on March 6 heard testimony on whether a “North Dakota dollar” should be added to what beef producers pay to a check-off — doubling an amount already collected under a federal check-off.

ND House Ag Committee hears testimony on anti-corporate bill

North Dakota’s House Agriculture Committee heard more than eight hours of testimony March 5 on a bill that would relax the state’s anti-corporate farming law to allow corporations to own swine and dairy operations. Some think the bill opens the door to corporate ownership of beef feedlots above the current size cap of 640 acres, or one square mile.

Johnson brothers ask for leniency in insurance fraud sentencing

FARGO, N.D. -- Two North Dakota farming brothers convicted of crop insurance fraud are asking a federal judge for leniency based on character and family responsibilities, while federal lawyers are asking for the maximum sentences.

SD Legislature passes raw milk bill; governor expected to sign

South Dakota raw milk producers can continue to sell milk directly to customers, but under strict rules to protect the reputation of the larger commercial dairy industry.


NDFU poll: 75 percent would vote against ND anti-corporate farming bill

On March 3, two days before key legislative hearings on a bill that would loosen North Dakota’s anti-corporate farming law, the North Dakota Farmers Union released a poll that shows 75 percent of North Dakotans would vote against the bill, if given a chance.

Land survey seeks producer prospective

About 3,000 farmers from southeast North Dakota and eastern South Dakota will receive a survey this week from Iowa asking how and why their agricultural land use has changed in the past decade.

Economist at Northern Soybean Expo sees continued recovery

Don’t expect much inflation in 2015, but do expect a continued economic recovery, a nationally known economist told hundreds of conference-going farmers on Feb. 17 at the Northern Soybean Expo in Fargo, N.D.


Big corn, soy meetings coming to Fargo, N.D.

The two big corn and soybean events of the winter are rolling into Fargo Holiday Inn, Feb. 17 and 18.

Optimism at Sioux Falls Farm Show

The drum beat of bad news in commodity markets rules the day at the Sioux Falls, S.D., Salute to Agriculture — a multi-venue exposition during the Sioux Falls Farm Show and the concurrent Sioux Empire Farm Show livestock event Jan. 28 to 30.


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Will beef always be for dinner?

FARGO, N.D. — In the 1980s, the Wendy’s restaurant chain asked a memorable question, “Where’s the Beef?” Thirty years later, a small minority of Americans are asking a different question, with a twist — “Why is there beef?”


Fall poetry in farm country

Fall is upon us. It seems hard to believe, but the row crop season harvest could be over before the end of October, depending on whether we start getting badly needed rain. Forgive me for not writing a “drought of 2013” story until we know whether it’s rained before freeze-up.


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.