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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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Fired North Dakota corn group executive alleges conflicts of interest

The former executive director of the North Dakota Corn Utilization Council confirmed that he was fired, and has written a letter about what he called governance conflicts of interest involving some of the organization’s board members.


North Dakota Corn Growers executive director resigns abruptly

Tom Lilja, the executive director of both the North Dakota Corn Utilization Council and the North Dakota Corn Growers Association, resigned abruptly June 23.


Prosecutors eye Johnson auction proceeds

North Dakota Farmers convicted of potato insurance fraud last winter should cough up proceeds from a June 18 equipment auction sale, a federal prosecutor says.

NDFU board member dies in farm accident

A board member of the North Dakota Farmers Union died June 20 in an accident while doing farm tractor repair near Mott, N.D. James A. Kerzman was found by his brother, Jerry, at a Quonset on the farmstead.


No settlement agreement in ADM lawsuit against North Dakota farmer

ADM, based in Illinois, alleges that Al Johnson and his Johnson Farms company improperly failed to live up to a deal to pay $2.5 million for a defunct ethanol plant in Walhalla. Johnson had promised $2.5 million for the facilities. When he didn't continue with the deal, ADM sold the facilities to others for $2 million.


ADM suing North Dakota farmer for defaulting on ethanol plant deal

Archer Daniels Midland Co. is suing a prominent Walhalla, N.D., farmer for $700,000 for defaulting on a deal to buy a former ethanol plant in Walhalla.

North Dakota ag sees role reversal

Farms in greater North Dakota financially out-performed the Red River Valley in 2014, according to an analysis of North Dakota Farm Business Management Program records by North Dakota State University.


Ag groups propose North Dakota NRCS replace Ducks Unlimited employees

Several North Dakota farm groups have requested Ducks Unlimited organization staff members be removed from Natural Resources Conservation Service offices in the state and their duties be covered by staffers from a more locally controlled group.

Court drops appeals to DNR decisions in R.D. Offutt water permit applications

The Minnesota Court of Appeals on June 2 agreed to drop appeals filed by R.D. Offutt against a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources decision requiring extra environmental reports from the potato producer for water permit applications.

Rural North Dakota veggie processor hit by vandal

The Kidder County Sheriff's office in Steele, N.D., reports an unusual case of property damage at Kidco Farms Processing Inc., near Dawson. Deputy William Janisch says someone with a vehicle drove into a doorway at the processing company, causing thousands of dollars of damage to equipment inside.

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'Enforce' only for bad behavior

Over the Fourth of July weekend, I think a lot about what it means to live in America.


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.