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Press Pass: Mega-pads getting bigger, ND Libertarian candidate says 'war on drugs' is a failed policy, Farmers face challenges dealing with low commodities

Here's some of our top stories from Tuesday's edition. It's your Press Pass to some of the best stories we bring you every day. Want your Press Pass fast? Sign up for our email alerts. Bakken multi-well pads getting bigger Oil well pads are getti...

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Here’s some of our top stories from Tuesday’s edition. It’s your Press Pass to some of the best stories we bring you every day.

Want your Press Pass fast? Sign up for our email alerts .

Bakken multi-well pads getting bigger

Oil well pads are getting bigger in western North Dakota as companies figure out how to get the most oil out of the Bakken.

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Hess Corp. has the Bakken’s largest well pad with 18 wells on a single location, but the state’s top oil regulator says he expects to see mega-pads get even larger.

“At any time in the not too distant future, their record is going to be eclipsed,” said Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources.

Regulators already have permitted a few larger multi-well pads, including one from Continental Resources that will have 25 wells on one location.

ND Libertarian candidate: ‘War on drugs’ failed policy

Marty Riske’s platform is unconventional for a candidate seeking the North Dakota governor’s office. He advocates legalizing marijuana and stopping civil forfeiture of property seized in criminal investigations.

The Fargo businessman, whose only earlier run for political office was a bid years ago for the Grand Forks City Council, is running as a Libertarian Party candidate.

Riske, who has for years worked behind the scenes to build the North Dakota Libertarian Party from scratch, polled 1,088 votes in the June primary, compared to 68,042 votes for the Republican candidate, Fargo businessman Doug Burgum, and 17,278 votes for the Democrat, Rep. Martin Nelson, D-Rolla, who is a crop consultant.

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Low commodity prices, high input costs and dry weather have made for a difficult crop growing season

Farmers bank their year on how crops will fair come harvest.

With a mixture of a dry year and low commodity prices, agronomist Chris Binstock said this year will be challenging.

“It’s going to be definitely a tougher year, no question about,” said Binstock, who works for CHS Southwest Grain.

“It’s going to be a tougher year for two reasons,” he added. “One, it started off to be tougher right off the bat with commodity prices being low. That didn‘t help the situation. You know typically, based off of history, when commodity drops as low as they do, fertilizer will typically follow that -- but it didn’t.”

ND student loan refinance program proving popular, used as recruitment tool

Maggie Burke found herself as a newly minted college graduate facing student loan debt of $30,000 and paying interest rates ranging from 11 percent to 14 percent.

That translated into monthly payments of about $780. Prospective school loan obligations that  seemed unremarkable as a high school senior, when she was planning her college path, suddenly seemed like an overwhelming burden to carry when starting out on her career.

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Soon, however, she’ll be able to slash her monthly payments or shorten her payback term by refinancing her student loans through a program of the Bank of North Dakota -- and will join more than 8,000 borrowers who have refinanced college loans exceeding $380 million.

Beef industry mixed on what effects of corporate agriculture could be

Few people argued that North Dakota’s beef industry needed help staying relevant when a bill arose in the 2015 Legislature that would have loosened the state’s anti-corporate agriculture law.

Current law allows only corporations made up of families to own agricultural land. Proponents of the bill thought allowing corporate swine and dairy operations to rent or own up to 640 acres of land would stimulate the dwindling industries.

While a voter referendum last month killed that measure, the idea of expanding corporate agriculture in North Dakota did not die with it. The North Dakota Farm Bureau is suing in federal court to do away with the law in its entirety, which would allow corporations to be involved in any agricultural venture.

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