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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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Cramer: Rail service must improve by harvest, CP progress slow

Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D. said he was watching the reports. He acknowledged the BNSF progress and noted more progress needs to be made before harvest. Cramer said CP had not indicated “any meaningful reductions in their backlog since these reports began.”


Few in favor of soybean tax vote

It would have taken nearly 57,000 valid petitions to trigger a referendum vote on whether to keep the federal soybean check-off in place, but only 324 valid forms came in, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture official.


BNSF deal sets Verona, ND, plan

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and the Red River Valley & Western railroads have come to an agreement on shuttle train rates for Verona, N.D., to all export ports.

Rising corn yields, rail delays lead to bin-building boom

Derrick Rauen of Summit, S.D., is on the front lines of what industry experts say is another year in the region’s bin-building binge.


Ag groups want to limit rail costs with late cars

The North Dakota Farmers Union and North Dakota Corn Growers Association are among 23 organizations nationwide filing comments on rate case complaint procedures with the U.S. Surface Transportation Board. The action is “the largest combined filing by farm organizations in years,” according to the joint news release by the two groups.

Rail service lags behind projections

Agricultural train shipments are getting a little better, but not as fast as Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway had expected.


CP developing new car ordering plan, adding grain cars

Canadian Pacific Railway says it will create a new grain car ordering system for its fleet, as well as add more cars. The announcement is in response to a June 20 order by the Surface Transportation Board requiring CP and Burlington Northern Santa Fe to develop a plan to catch up on severely late grain car shipments.

Railroads respond to STB order

The two largest railroads serving farmers are not saying publicly exactly how they’ll respond to a Surface Transportation Board rule that requires new or updated plans to solve grain shipment delays by June 27.

SD Attorney General rules Anderson Seed is civil, not criminal case

An investigator for the South Dakota Attorney General’s office has told farmers and elevator operators owed money in the Anderson Seed Inc. insolvency that the case is civil, and criminal charges won’t be filed against Ron and Stephanie Anderson and their Mentor, Minn.-based sunflower processing company.

NDSU grows with bean breeding industry

North Dakota State University’s dry edible bean breeding program began in 1980 and is one of the nation’s largest programs on the topic.


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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?

Will beef always be for dinner?

FARGO, N.D. — In the 1980s, the Wendy’s restaurant chain asked a memorable question, “Where’s the Beef?” Thirty years later, a small minority of Americans are asking a different question, with a twist — “Why is there beef?”


Fall poetry in farm country

Fall is upon us. It seems hard to believe, but the row crop season harvest could be over before the end of October, depending on whether we start getting badly needed rain. Forgive me for not writing a “drought of 2013” story until we know whether it’s rained before freeze-up.


Crop insurance

How many drought years will test program limits?


What's real and what's obscene?

FARGO, N.D. — The “pink slime” controversy brings to mind my days growing up, and my re-education about food at Brookings (S.D.) Middle School. It was there in the late 1960s and early 1970s that I first ate school lunch.

Is that pop champagne?

FARGO, N.D. — If farmers are the eternal optimists, then they may have more to be optimistic in 2012 than ever before. And more to be careful about, I would think.