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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

Regional farmers join legal actions against Syngenta

Northern Plains farmers are getting into the legal fray over Syngenta’s alleged premature release of a genetically modified (GM) corn variety. The commercial release to U.S. farmers allegedly led to China stopping imports of U.S. corn and distillers grains from November 2013 through much of 2014.

HSUS alleges cruelty at Minn. chicken plant; company denies claims

A southwest Minnesota food company denies allegations from an animal rights group that it scalded alive spent laying hens, and says there is no concern that the company will interrupt its production.

Hoeven tours new crop genotyping center

A new National Agriculture Genotyping Center on the campus of North Dakota State University in Fargo will start hiring scientists in three months and will employ six people by the end of 2015.

US, Mexico reach deal to suspend sugar antidumping, countervailing duty cases

The U.S. Department of Commerce has reached an agreement with the Mexican government and sugar producers to suspend the antidumping and countervailing duty cases against Mexican sugar imports. The deal is causing cautious optimism among sugar producers and criticism from sugar users.

Rail service complaints slow

Slower grain sales because of slack prices has reduced complaints about slow commodity rail shipments, but the railroads are reporting persistent backlogs, and container shipments of agricultural and other products to key Pacific Northwest ports are worse than ever, officials say.

Congress extends Section 179

The U.S. House on Dec. 3 passed a package of $42 billion in tax incentives, including Section 179, and the Senate passed it on Dec. 16. President Barack Obama was expected to sign it.

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ND farmer makes farm bill decisions for the last time before handing operation over to sons

Al Juliuson is in the process of signing up for the Agricultural Act of 2014.

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Easing of Cuba restrictions creates opportunity for ag

The Dec. 17 agreement between the U.S. and Cuba to normalize diplomatic relations between the two countries could lead to improved trade possibilities and important opportunities for U.S. Agriculture, Upper Great Plains officials said.

Transportation discussion provides few answers

What will the region’s agricultural railroad service look like in 2040? Will farmers in the Upper Great Plains continue to see trains two and three weeks late in the next 18 months?

Jury finds ND potato farmers guilty in crop insurance fraud case

A federal jury in Fargo found Northwood, N.D., potato farming brothers Aaron and Derek Johnson guilty of all felony counts of crop insurance fraud brought against them.

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Columns

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?”

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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.

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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.