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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

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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Butterfield Foods files reply to HSUS allegations

Officials of a chicken slaughter plant in southwest Minnesota say they have filed an official response to allegations they fail to completely kill chickens before removing their feathers with scalding water.

ND PSC shuts down Grand Forks Bean Co.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission on Jan. 16 issued a cease and desist order against Grand Forks (N.D.) Bean Co. The agency says it plans to ask a district judge to name the PSC as trustee for the company, on grounds that it is insolvent.

Ohio farmer: Precision ag pays

Most farmers attending a Precision Agriculture Summit instinctively believe precision agriculture pays, but when one of their own puts a pencil to it, they take notice. Brian Watkins is on the eastern edge of the corn and soybean belt and was one of the early adopters of variable-rate application technologies.

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Precision Ag Summit proves interest in technology is still high

North Dakota’s 4th Annual Precision Agriculture Summit drew a slightly smaller crowd to Jamestown than last year, but the audience still showed strong and more intense interest in a fast-changing topic.

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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.

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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.