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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

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.

Railroads respond to STB order

The two largest railroads serving farmers are not saying publicly exactly how they’ll respond to a Surface Transportation Board rule that requires new or updated plans to solve grain shipment delays by June 27.

SD Attorney General rules Anderson Seed is civil, not criminal case

An investigator for the South Dakota Attorney General’s office has told farmers and elevator operators owed money in the Anderson Seed Inc. insolvency that the case is civil, and criminal charges won’t be filed against Ron and Stephanie Anderson and their Mentor, Minn.-based sunflower processing company.

NDSU grows with bean breeding industry

North Dakota State University’s dry edible bean breeding program began in 1980 and is one of the nation’s largest programs on the topic.

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Columns

‘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.

AG AT-LARGE: Greenhouse gas rules should consider science

MINNEAPOLIS — I was walking through the airport terminal in Minneapolis, on the way home from a North American Agricultural Journalists annual meeting in Washington. My head was spinning with information about climate change and carbon footprints for agriculture.