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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

An inside look at the Worthington Ag Parts operation

Worthington Ag Parts in Worthington, Minn., is the original location of a global business and still one of its busiest stores.

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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.”

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Columns

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.

Steiger pride on display

FARGO, N.D. — Where I work, I keep a model of the Steiger Puma tractor on the mantle of the rolltop desk I inherited from my dad. I bought the model tractor June 17, 1986, the day Steiger Tractor Inc. of Fargo, N.D., announced it was filing Chapter 11 reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Holding our breath

FARGO, N.D. — “Come on, global warming!” You don’t actually hear that cheer, but there are farmers in the northern Red River Valley and areas to the east and west no doubt are thinking it.

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