Mikkel Pates is an agricultural journalist, creating print, online and television stories for Agweek magazine and Agweek TV. He writes about a wide range of farmers and agribusinesses throughout North Dakota, Minnesota and surrounding states. He earned his degree in agricultural journalism degree from South Dakota State University and has worked for what are now Forum Communications papers since 1979. He grew up on at Brookings, S.D., where his father was an agricultural journalist with the SDSU Extension Service.

Readers can reach Mikkel email at mpates@agweek.com, or by phone at 701-936-0686.

Famo Feeds Inc., of Freeport, Minnesota, is an unusual livestock feed maker for Minnesota because an independent, family-owned manufacturer has its own brand of feed. The company’s colorful logo is a curiosity for the thousands of motorists and customers traveling along Interstate 94, en route to and from the Twin Cities.
Swany White Flour Mills, Ltd., in downtown Freeport, Minnesota, is one of the longest-running family-owned flour mills in Minnesota, and shares a common family tree with Famo Feeds Inc., a much larger livestock feed mill along Interstate 94, west of town.
Northeast South Dakota cereal crops were looking good in late July 2022 for the Agweek Cereal Crop Tour, but high winds and hot temperatures raised concerns for crops that started three weeks late and are three weeks behind in development during a critical head-filling time. The tour focused on condition sat the Northeast Research Station for South Dakota State University, at South Shore, S.D.
American Crystal Sugar Co. union employees on July 26, 2022, voted to reject a four-year labor pact that offered 17% in pay increases over four years, to replace a five-year deal that expires Aug. 1, 2022. The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers initially will suggest new negotiation dates and isn’t suggesting a strike vote. Crystal, a Moorhead, Minnesota, farmer-owned cooperative, says it doesn’t “intend” to lock workers out, as it did for 22 months from 2011 to 2013.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday, July 20, 2022, changed the formula for disaster payments for above-normal livestock losses to reflect truer values of baby calves and other animals, in the wake of the April 2022 “Blizzard Haley” storm complex that hit North Dakota. The previous administration had administratively in 2020 added a "bottom-tier" of payment for baby calves that undervalued the animals.
Ayos, one of the companies getting set to do work in the new Grand Farm, says it wants to “unleash the power of natural resistance” against phytophthora root rot — a major disease of soybeans.
Nori, a five-year-old company from Seattle, Washington, is running into skepticism from farmers as it sets up a system that would pay farmers for carbon credits it would sell to buyers, in exchange first for dollars but then through a “cryptocurrency" system connected to their company.
For the fifth year, Agweek reporter Mikkel Pates reprises his Flags On Farms feature for Independence Day, featuring flags of the United States on farms and agribusinesses in the region. This year, our featured vignette is from a former grain elevator at Andover, South Dakota, with a 30-by-60 foot U.S. flag painted on it.
The North Dakota Attorney General’s office says billionaire Bill Gates’ Red River Trust purchase of Campbell Farms land was legal because of lease-back. But the trust’s lawyer said the Campbells filed the trust’s name with the Secretary of State without the trust’s knowledge.
The Red River Valley Water Supply Project will sue farmland owners for eminent domain if they don’t sign easements before July 8, 2022. Farmers say the project is paying one-tenth what others pay for far smaller oil, gas and water pipelines.