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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

Red River Valley sees truck driver crunch

The annual crunch for trucks in the northern Red River Valley has intensified in the past several weeks.

Railroads show improvement

The region’s two Class I railroads — BNSF Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway — are reporting improved status on late cars, and CP has proposed a major merger to bypass an infamous Chicago bottleneck blamed for last winter’s delays.

Railroads show improvement; CP propose large merger

The region’s two Class I railroads — BNSF Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway — are reporting improved status on late cars, and CP has proposed a major merger to bypass an infamous Chicago bottleneck blamed for last winter’s delays.

Measure 5 debate aims to answer questions from farmers, ranchers

Proponents and opponents of North Dakota’s Measure 5 are stepping up their efforts in a dead heat to influence voters on a measure that could put the state’s support of conservation on an entirely new plane.

ND farmer adds to farm, feedlot through industry highs and lows

Chase Dewitz has fearlessly expanded his North Dakota farm, having ridden the ups and now navigating the downs of lower commodity prices.

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STB orders more extensive reporting from railroads

Grain elevator and agriculture groups are cautiously optimistic that a more extensive reporting system for railroads, ordered Oct. 8 by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, will at least allow agricultural shippers to see whether they’re getting the same kind of service as oil, coal and other industries.

Farm groups want DU employees out of NRCS district offices in ND

The North Dakota Grain Growers Association, the North Dakota Farm Bureau and others have scheduled news conferences in Fargo on Wednesday and Bismarck on Thursday to ask that the National Resources Conservation Service remove Ducks Unlimited employees from district offices in the state, an arrangement agency officials say is longstanding and harmful to farmers.

Farm bill is good fit for region's dairies

Dairy farmers have until Nov. 28 to sign up for the new Margin Protection Program under the new federal farm bill.

Winter Storm Atlas one year later

Gary Cammack says ranchers who stop in at his Cammack Ranch Supply store in Union Center, S.D., have been commenting about how the clouds, mist and fog in some of the waning days of September remind them of the weather just before the blizzard that hit the region Oct. 3 to 5, 2013.

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Railroads report improved service progress

With wheat harvest in the late innings and soybean and corn harvests coming up, the region’s railroads are reporting better service progress.

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Columns

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.

AG AT-LARGE: Mother Nature is cruel and cold or a sustaining life force

FARGO, N.D. — It’s inevitable. When something bad happens in the environment — especially flood or storms — the blame usually goes to “Mother Nature.” I’m not sure what your mother was like, but mine wouldn’t have liked being held responsible for something like a flood.

AG AT-LARGE: Historian recounts stories of Red River Valley laborers

FARGO, N.D. — If you’re at all linked to or love agriculture in the Red River Valley, especially sugar beets or potatoes, you should take a few hours and read this new book — “North for the Harvest,” by Jim Norris, a history teacher at North Dakota State University in Fargo.

AG AT-LARGE: Grandin's book offers tips

FARGO, N.D. — Temple Grandin is in the news again. Grandin is one of the nation’s best-known autistic people and a famous designer of animal handling facilities and practices for cows, chickens, sheep and pigs. I interviewed her in 2004 when she was a guest lecturer at North Dakota State University in Fargo.

AG AT-LARGE: Northwood, N.D., farmer tells it like it is

FARGO, N.D. — It took me more than 25 years of jawboning to finally get an interview with Enoch Thorsgard.

AG AT-LARGE: Recalling another day

Remembering another economic crisis

Is another bust in farming a sure thing?

FARGO, N.D. — “Things are seldom as good as they say it is in the newspaper — and almost never as bad,” Mikkel Pates says to friends at least once a month for the past 20 years, often over a “nice cup of tea.”

Brushing at biomass

FARGO, N.D. — While attending parts of a recent conference in Fargo, N.D., titled “Northern Plains Biomass Economy: What Makes Sense?” I thought — hey — this was the right question for a conference. I congratulate North Dakota State University for pulling this together. I think “what makes sense” is a complicated issue here because it’s like solving a math question with multiple unknowns.