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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

Worthington Ag Parts celebrates 50 years

Worthington Ag Parts has put the name Worthington on the world map. The agricultural tractor salvage business celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

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CP’s Harrison: We will get better

Hunter Harrison, CEO of Canadian Pacific Railway, showed his pride and disappointment in his railroad’s ability to move North Dakota grain in a meeting Aug. 11 with shippers and two U.S. senators in Minot.

Hoeven to meet with CP head Aug. 11

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., will meet Aug.11 with the Canadian Pacific Railway CEO in Minot about the rail issues the ag industry has experienced. The event will be open to the public.

ND ag industry expresses worries to BNSF chairman

North Dakota farmers and agricultural processors vented their concerns about grain shipments to the head of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway on Thursday in Fargo, N.D.

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ND farmers vent about cross-compliance delays

North Dakota farmers couldn’t prevent “cross-compliance” between conservation and crop insurance in the 2014 farm bill, and now are venting their frustration with federal officials and wildlife leaders.

Irrigators get help from abroad, switch to sprinklers

All sugar beets grown for Sidney Sugars Inc. are irrigated, and that traditionally has meant some hard physical labor. But that presents a problem because labor is increasingly hard to come by in the midst of the big Bakken oilfield boom.

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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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Columns

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.

Death of a ‘Super Sage’

FARGO, N.D. — The great Norman Ernest Borlaug is dead. For those too young to remember, it was Borlaug, 93 at his death, who described himself only as a “temporary success” in fighting world hunger.

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Can mankind end hunger?

FARGO, N.D. — I recently received my copy of “Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty.” Every person connected to the food industry should read it.

Ag At-Large: Seeding education

FARGO, N.D. — I recently spent time with Bob Majkrzak, president and chief executive officer of Red River Commodities, as he talked about his company’s role in a confection sunflower industry that has turned summersaults to remain competitive in the past 20 years.