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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

Sidney Sugars competes for workers in Bakken oil patch

Dave Garland, general manager of the Sidney Sugars Inc. beet sugar plant of Sidney, Mont., says he’d prefer to concentrate on making sugar. Instead, he spends a lot of his time working on housing and advertising to attract new workers in the middle of an oil boom.

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SD elevator full, shuts doors as a result of poor rail service

The Midwest Cooperatives elevator in Pierre, S.D., has closed its doors because it has no more room for storage. Officials say it's a result of the poor rail service.

BNSF invests in ag shipping, prepares for harvest

John Miller, BNSF group vice president for agriculture, spoke at a meeting of the North Dakota Agricultural Rail Business Council in Mandan, N.D., July 31. The group is made up of about 40 ag-related entities. “We know we’re not doing as well as we should; we know the market wants more,” Miller said. “But we are shipping record amounts.”

Cramer: Rail service must improve by harvest, CP progress slow

Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D. said he was watching the reports. He acknowledged the BNSF progress and noted more progress needs to be made before harvest. Cramer said CP had not indicated “any meaningful reductions in their backlog since these reports began.”

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Few in favor of soybean tax vote

It would have taken nearly 57,000 valid petitions to trigger a referendum vote on whether to keep the federal soybean check-off in place, but only 324 valid forms came in, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture official.

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BNSF deal sets Verona, ND, plan

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and the Red River Valley & Western railroads have come to an agreement on shuttle train rates for Verona, N.D., to all export ports.

Rising corn yields, rail delays lead to bin-building boom

Derrick Rauen of Summit, S.D., is on the front lines of what industry experts say is another year in the region’s bin-building binge.

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Ag groups want to limit rail costs with late cars

The North Dakota Farmers Union and North Dakota Corn Growers Association are among 23 organizations nationwide filing comments on rate case complaint procedures with the U.S. Surface Transportation Board. The action is “the largest combined filing by farm organizations in years,” according to the joint news release by the two groups.

Rail service lags behind projections

Agricultural train shipments are getting a little better, but not as fast as Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway had expected.

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CP developing new car ordering plan, adding grain cars

Canadian Pacific Railway says it will create a new grain car ordering system for its fleet, as well as add more cars. The announcement is in response to a June 20 order by the Surface Transportation Board requiring CP and Burlington Northern Santa Fe to develop a plan to catch up on severely late grain car shipments.

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Columns

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.

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.”