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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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Senate Ag Committee reauthorizes grain standards act with Heitkamp amendment

he U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee on May 21 passed the U.S. Grains Standards Act Reauthorization. U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., included an amendment that could lead to better access to Canadian wheat and barley markets for U.S. farmers near the border.

California company sets launch parties in Dakotas

Farmers Business Network, a California-based, farmer-to-farmer agronomic information network, will hold launch parties in Sioux Falls, S.D., and Fargo, N.D., in early June, a new link between Silicon Valley and the I-29 corridor in the eastern Dakotas.

Study estimates bird flu costs in Minnesota at $310 million

The University of Minnesota Extension Service says the bird flu outbreaks since March 4 have cost the state's turkey and poultry industries nearly $310 million in outstate Minnesota.

Judge seeks input on use of unclaimed funds in Native American land discrimination suit settlement

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has set a June 29 hearing to consider what to do with $380 million in unclaimed funds generated in a discrimination case against the U.S. Department of Agriculture by Native Americans.

STB sets ag rail rate hearings

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board will hold two hearings in Washington, D.C., this summer to address issues with railroad grain transportation.

Cold snap not yet fatal for crops

Cold temperatures in the past three days have threatened early-emerging crops in the Dakotas and Minnesota, but there are no widespread reports of freeze damage.

Dispatches from DC: Ag journalism in the nation’s capital

Today, we’ll hear from numerous top national figures, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Robert Johansson, USDA chief economist, as well as top trade officials. Clint Raine of the National Corn Growers Association, will talk about the use of drones in agriculture.


ND Legislature passes bill to fund ag litigation against federal environmental regulations

The North Dakota Legislature has passed the agricultural piece of a two-part legislative effort, designed to create a fund to help legally protect the state's two largest industries -- agriculture and energy -- from federal environmental regulations.

Aaron Johnson files appeal notice in crop insurance fraud conviction

Both of the potato-growing brothers from Northwood, N.D., convicted of federal crop insurance fraud have submitted to the Cass County Jail in Fargo and are waiting to be transferred to a federal prison, probably in Duluth, Minn.


Farmers in the Upper Midwest need rain

The most recent NASS weather report shows the four-state area is below the five-year average for rainfall accumulation.


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Not much good news in 2015

Hope for improvements in March, April


Beyond the boom and bust cycle

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” It’s a world-famous epigram that is said to have been coined by French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr in the 1800s. I think of that saying as I hear experts talk in hushed tones about the times we’re heading into.


Measure 5 sets back ag-hunter relations

I took about a week off in late October this year to go pheasant hunting with Dick Unkenholz, a retired former United Methodist pastor. Dick baptized our two children in the late 1980s.


STB a toothless tiger

Officials aren’t going to do much to make the trains run on time to alleviate the 2014 ag rail problems. Farmers and elevators need to prepare to suffer through 2015 and maybe 2016 and beyond.


Lessons from California prove eye-opening

A few weeks ago, I used some time off from covering Upper Great Plains agriculture for Agweek to attend a two-day seminar focusing on the “Salad Bowl of the World” in Salinas, Calif.


Support for farming

I’d like to remind farmers that they still have a lot of fans.


Battling agriculture's critics

Two recent experiences have left me shaking and scratching my head about how farmers battle critics and phantoms.


The story of Scotty, a buffalo pioneer

Recently I attended “Buffalo King,” a 2013 documentary movie on the life of James “Scotty” Philip, at the Fargo Film Festival.


Faith and business

“At AEFS we are a family of believers. We believe in God, we believe in America, we believe in the family farm and we believe in the Jerusalem artichoke.” — American Energy Farming Systems corporate philosophy.


Back to the '80s

Will farmers wake up and react to weed resistance?