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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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Grabanski stops sale of his ND assets by filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy

Farmer Tom Grabanski has at least temporarily stopped a courthouse sale of his Grafton, N.D., home, as well as several other area properties, by filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The auction had been scheduled for July 30.

Offutt wants potato price-fixing lawsuit dismissed

Potato farmer, processor and agribusiness man Ronald D. Offutt Jr. of Fargo, N.D., formally has denied wrongdoing in a fresh and process potatoes antitrust lawsuit. He asks that the case be dismissed or that it go to jury trial.


Minn. prevented plant acres largely in the southeast

Debra Crusoe, state director for the federal Farm Service Agency in Minnesota, says more than 725,000 acres are prevented plant status in that state.

Software slowing FSA reporting

Monday, July 15, is the deadline to file acreage reports with the federal Farm Service Agency, but agency officials in North Dakota say computer slow-downs may not make it possible to complete the project.

ND, SD grain regulators to discuss Anderson Seed fallout

State grain elevator regulators in North Dakota and South Dakota will meet with farmers on June 17, in Redfield, S.D., to discuss fallout in state grain handling laws in the wake of matters involving the Anderson Seed Co. insolvency.

Expanding in Africa

Wallie Hardie is a Richland County, N.D., farmer, but in the past two years, he and his son Josh have become farmers in Africa, too.


2 contracts

An ag lender meeting in Moorhead May 29 addressed negotiating rents and deciding whether to put tile on rented ground.


Region’s seed experts support court’s decision in favor of Monsanto

Some soybean and seed officials in North Dakota say they’re not surprised about the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that affirmed an Indiana farmer infringed a Monsanto seed patent by buying and planting bin-run soybeans containing the patented trait.

ND senators decry crop insurance, conservation compliance link

The Senate farm bill scheduled for debate May 21 would link crop insurance to conservation compliance, significantly affecting North Dakota farmers who drained wetlands to allow more room for valuable crops. The House bill does not link the two.

ND insurance agents say prevent-plant crop insurance rules are untenable

A new head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency on May 2 got an earful from U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and a roomful of farmers and crop insurance agents in Fargo, about the agency’s handling of prevent-plant rules.

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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.


Obama vs. McCain?

FARGO, N.D. -- The other day, I attended a news conference, of sorts, regarding the agricultural positions of presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama.


SUNNY REUNION: 50th year attracts friends to valley

FARGO, N.D. -- The other day, I was privileged to attend a family reunion of sorts.


Where credit is due

FARGO, N.D. — My mother-in-law had an old German expression that she told half-jokingly that I paraphrase something like this: “He who doesn’t brag about himself, goes unbragged.”


AG AT-LARGE: Good old days of cheap dirt

Fargo,?N.D. — Anyone in agriculture has to be impressed with the breathtaking backlash that has occurred on corn-based ethanol. Suddenly, this increase in the price of corn and other commodities is seen as the worst thing that could have ever happened — an abomination. The good old days must have been when grain was dirt cheap. This turnaround is as startling as the reputations of Britny Spears or Eliot Spitzer.