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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

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.

Jury gets Johnson crop insurance case

The credibility of a convicted felon will be key in a jury’s decision on whether Aaron and Derek Johnson, two third-generation potato farmers who operated out of Northwood, N.D., are guilty of intentionally destroying some of their crops in order to get unfair gains in crop insurance and federal disaster payments.

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Columns

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.”

‘Nutrient density’ and other dense ideas

FARGO, N.D. — I read with interest a July 8 release from Organic Trade Association, which criticizes a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture draft Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 2010. The OTA complains that the guidelines say there is limited research on “nutrient density” comparisons between organic and conventionally raised food.

Coffee and the meaning of life

FARGO, N.D. — My sympathies to the entire family of Helen M. Broten of Dazey, N.D. Helen died at age 93 June 16, leaving the families of three daughters and a son.

A weird few days

FARGO, N.D. — Recently, I ran into a fellow who alerted me to big things happening with genetically modified wheat. GM wheat made me think about cures for Fusarium head blight or “scab,” which was the scourge of wheat producers in the region in the mid-1990s — and that reminded me of how I acquired Bailey, the older of the two of my tri-color English setter dogs. Bailey turned 12 on April 21.

AG AT-LARGE: 10 years later

FARGO, N.D. — Jan. 3, I marked exactly 10 years with Agweek and the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald.

What’s normal, anyway?

FARGO, N.D. — And so it’s Christmas. Our “normal” cold finally has set in. I’ve always thought there’s nothing as reliable as winter in the Red River Valley in an otherwise changing world. I recently wrote our family Christmas letter — a mix of the darker, the brighter, but seldom calm days of our lives. Here’s the CliffsNotes-like summary:

AG-AT-LARGE: Health insurance is a looming ag issue

FARGO, N.D. — There are many agricultural policy issues out there, but the current health care-health insurance debate should be of particular interest to farmers and ranchers.