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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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Hoeven offers fix for IRS expense change

Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., have introduced a bill to modify new IRS rules they say make it too difficult for family farmers and small business owners to deduct equipment repair and supply expenses

Berg to testify in sugar trade action

The U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission are about to make their first steps in determining merits of a pair of trade cases filed March 28 by U.S. sugar producers and processors. The cases allege unfair subsidization and dumping of Mexican sugar into the U.S.


BNSF VP says rail backlog will gradually improve

John H. Miller, vice president of agricultural products for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, answered lots of questions on April 9 in a meeting of the North Dakota Ag Rail Business Council in Fargo. Among the efforts Miller mentioned are more passing lanes, double-tracking between Minot, N.D., and Glasgow, Mont., and new side tracks for passing


Many ranchers were ready for March blizzard

Ranchers in the area say they were mostly prepared for the blizzard that swept through cattle country starting March 30. They say the storm was no comparison to the October blizzard that killed more than 40,000 animals.


BNSF weekly report puts spotlight on Grand Forks, N.D.

A Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway weekly report on late cars released March 28 alludes to “green shoots” of improvement, but contains results that fell further behind for the fourth week in a row for the four-state area. It also alludes to impending issues with the winter wheat harvest coming in June.

US sugar group files petition alleging Mexico has been dumping sugar, creating subsidies

U.S. sugar producers — suffering from plummeting sugar prices — on March 28 filed an antidumping and countervailing duty petition with the U.S. International Trade Commission and U.S. Commerce Department.

ND PSC: Earth Harvest suppliers to get 40 percent

Farmers and other companies who delivered grain to now insolvent Earth Harvest Mills in Harvey, N.D., will receive about $1 million — roughly 22 percent of what they initially said they were owed, and 40 cents on a dollar for valid claims, according to a North Dakota Public Service Commission recommendation.

Grain dealers tap Letcher to replace retiring Strege

Stu Letcher has been named the new executive vice president of the North Dakota Grain Dealers Association, to replace Steve Strege, who is retiring from that position at the end of May after 35 years in the post.


Court grants PSC deal in Anderson Seed case

Legumex Walker will pay $685,000 in approved settlement.

USDA to focus $35 million in Prairie Pothole region

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it will spend an extra $1.5 million annually to complete wetland determinations for farmers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Montana.

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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.


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.