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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

NDSU official: RFS delay 'bad news'

An Environmental Protection Agency decision to delay setting Renewable Fuels Standard targets until February 2015 is bad news for the industry because it creates uncertainty for the ethanol and biodiesel markets.

Ag groups act to limit conservation groups

North Dakota agricultural groups are putting the pressure on officials to eject conservation advocate organizations as contract helpers in U.S. Department of Agriculture offices that regulate wetland compliance issues.

No big spike in rustling cases

A recent report of suspected cattle rustling in the Napoleon, N.D., area is startling, but fairly rare, officials say.

Expect slow ag machinery sales

The farm equipment and implement business is bracing for a correction in corn- and soybean-dependent areas of the region. Dealers expect to be buoyed by livestock-related diversification, turf and construction areas in 2015.

Elevators: prices slow train demand

Grain elevators in the region are complaining less about railroads falling behind on freight delivery schedules, in part because farmers aren’t anxious to sell grain at recent lower prices.

Appareo signs joint venture

Fargo-based Appareo Systems on Nov. 5 announced it has agreed to enter a joint venture with AGCO Corp. to develop technology for advanced machine control systems.

American Crystal crop estimated at $37 per ton

American Crystal Sugar Co. has come out with an initial payment projection of $37 per ton for 2014 crop beets — a dollar lower than last year’s projection at this date and likely a money-loser for farmers and shareholders, if realized.

Shippers request 'service arbitration'

Some agricultural shippers say North Dakota should institute a “service arbitration” to solve issues between grain shippers and the railroads in the state.

Snow slogs corn harvest

Snow is slowing but not stopping the end of an exceptional corn harvest in the region.

Simplot's Innate GMO potato approved

Twenty years after scientists at North Dakota State University were among the first to conduct genetically modified potato research trials in the U.S., J.R. Simplot Co. has received U.S. Department of Agriculture approval for deregulation of a GMO potato. USDA approved Innate, a potato developed from other potato genes so it produces fewer acrylamides when fried. Anti-GMO groups are pressing for USDA to reverse its Nov. 7 decision. Clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected within weeks, according to Simplot.

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Columns

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.

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.”