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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.

A North Dakota potato breeder brings in a speaker from Wyoming who has trained a dog to detect potato virus diseases using their nose.
Anne Waltner, Parker, South Dakota, left a full-time career as a concert pianist and educator to join her parents’ farming operation. Along the way she married, had triplet daughters and survived cancer. Of her journey and life, she says: “Can you think of anybody luckier than me?”
Meyers Tractor Salvage of Aberdeen, South Dakota, is the largest enterprise of its type in the region. The family sells recycled parts and also does its own scrap iron work. Many farms in the region have bought parts from them or sold them rough and fire-damaged tractors, combines and other implements.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and John Thune, S.D., are moving a bill in the Senate, designed to pressure international ocean freight companies to fill freight “containers” with agricultural products instead of sending them back to Asia empty. Rick Brandenburger, president of Richland Innovative Food Crops Inc., Inc., of Breckenridge, Minnesota, says the company is getting only one-third of their needed containers. They want “teeth” in any efforts to fix the problem.
Brian Bjork, 62, (pronounced “Byork”) a farmer from Forman, North Dakota, is selling his machinery piecemeal after making the decision in December 2021 to retire from farming. His reasoning: used equipment values are “hot” and unlikely to improve. He’ll enjoy retirement near family and will work for a young neighbor who will rent his land.
A loose-knit group of agronomy professionals in North Dakota — with podcast, blog and Twitter connections — staged their fourth annual Agronomy on Ice event at Devils Lake, North Dakota, on Feb. 2, 2022. Hundreds of people shuffled in and out on the ice, enjoying Scandinavian and German delicacies and conversation in ice houses while temperatures dipped to the -30 degree range, with wind chills in the -50 territory.
Beef producer Ed Melroe of Kulm, North Dakota, is among the producers who say the current times continue to be unsustainable for cow-calf producers and feeders. The Hellwig family that operates Hub City in Aberdeen, South Dakota, describes the big numbers of animals they are dealing with, and that even with higher prices producers are hit with the cost-price squeeze.
United States Sugar Corp., a Clewiston, Florida, company that markets sugar cooperatively with Red River Valley sugarbeet growers, is seeking to purchase Imperial Sugar Co., including a major refinery in the Savannah, Georgia, area. The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday, Nov. 23, announced it is suing to block the purchase that could increase the market share of United Sugars Corp., the Edina, Minn.-based co-op marketing company, from its current 25% market share, to 32% to 34%.
A group of cattle producers has banded together as 6 in 1 Meats to ensure that they can get meat federally-inspected to sell directly to consumers.
Some North Dakota farm groups are growing concerned about federal COVID-19 vaccination mandates for elected Farm Service Agency county advisory committees and others.