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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

US, Mexico reach deal to slow sugar imports

The region's sugar officials aren't yet commenting, but a tentative deal would slow the flood of sugar that had plunged the region's sugar beet cooperative profits for the 2013 and 2014 crops.

Ethanol plants depend on rail service improvement to prevent shutdowns

Jim Seurer says only “plain old action” can prevent serious impacts from rail delays on the ethanol industry this winter and beyond.

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Red River Valley sees truck driver crunch

The annual crunch for trucks in the northern Red River Valley has intensified in the past several weeks.

Railroads show improvement

The region’s two Class I railroads — BNSF Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway — are reporting improved status on late cars, and CP has proposed a major merger to bypass an infamous Chicago bottleneck blamed for last winter’s delays.

Railroads show improvement; CP propose large merger

The region’s two Class I railroads — BNSF Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway — are reporting improved status on late cars, and CP has proposed a major merger to bypass an infamous Chicago bottleneck blamed for last winter’s delays.

Measure 5 debate aims to answer questions from farmers, ranchers

Proponents and opponents of North Dakota’s Measure 5 are stepping up their efforts in a dead heat to influence voters on a measure that could put the state’s support of conservation on an entirely new plane.

ND farmer adds to farm, feedlot through industry highs and lows

Chase Dewitz has fearlessly expanded his North Dakota farm, having ridden the ups and now navigating the downs of lower commodity prices.

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STB orders more extensive reporting from railroads

Grain elevator and agriculture groups are cautiously optimistic that a more extensive reporting system for railroads, ordered Oct. 8 by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, will at least allow agricultural shippers to see whether they’re getting the same kind of service as oil, coal and other industries.

Farm groups want DU employees out of NRCS district offices in ND

The North Dakota Grain Growers Association, the North Dakota Farm Bureau and others have scheduled news conferences in Fargo on Wednesday and Bismarck on Thursday to ask that the National Resources Conservation Service remove Ducks Unlimited employees from district offices in the state, an arrangement agency officials say is longstanding and harmful to farmers.

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.

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Columns

Crop insurance

How many drought years will test program limits?

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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.

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100 years of history

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

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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.