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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 Halstad, Minnesota, family has created a business of producing early-generation potato seed for potato seed producers. The business is a two-generation effort, with numerous employees here on H-2A visas.
Agtegra Cooperative provides grain rescue training for workers in its many locations, as well as a close-up rescue drill exposure for medical students at the University of South Dakota. Agtegra and USD also are supporters of a new program that provides training and a “ditch kit” for rural people who help if someone is injured.
A group of farmers near Leola, South Dakota, and Aberdeen, South Dakota, say they are ethanol supporters but that the proposed Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline will cause them far more than what the company is paying for easements. They also say the lurking threat of eminent domain is inappropriate because the pipeline is not for a public utility. They think the long-term strategy of installing a pipeline to satisfy what may be of environmentally uncertain value is wrong, substituting their loss for likely a temporary gain for ethanol and pipeline investors.
The state of Minnesota has launched an advertising campaign designed to inform livestock producers of the dangers of purchasing sunflower screenings, non-certified hay and other feeds from out-of-state, including North Dakota, because of the Palmer amaranth threat. State officials say the concerns are particularly strong at the Red River border between Minnesota and North Dakota, where several counties have Palmer amaranth infestations. The danger is particularly acute for the sugarbeet crop, which has few chemical tools to fight it.
North Dakota’s State Conservationist Mary Podoll talks about the realities behind the rhetoric involving the Biden administration cooperation with the so-called “30 by 30” initiative, a worldwide effort to protect resources.
The Conservation Stewardship Program, delivered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, is highly popular with farmland owners in North Dakota as a way to increase environmentally-friendly practices. Todd C. Hagel, assistant state conservation, describes the basics in the rules.
Gary Tharaldson, North Dakota’s successful hotel developer and owner of Tharaldson Ethanol in Casselton, North Dakota, describes how his company will move forward after the death of chief operating officer Ryan Thorpe. Tharaldson urges people to check in on others but said there was no warning at work that would have predicted the tragedy of Thorpe's death by suicide.
Availability of labor is becoming tighter and more competitive. Officials of the Farmers Cooperative Elevator at Rosholt, South Dakota, describe how in the spring of 2022 they offered $30 an hour for truck “tender” drivers, moving fertilizer and inputs to farms, but got no applicants. They were grateful for local trucking firms stepping up during the vital period, but understandably at a higher cost for the farmer-owned company.
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.