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LITCHFIELD, MN

'Booby traps' found in central Minnesota farm field

Authorities in central Minnesota say someone left "booby traps" in a farmer's field apparently meant to damage farm equipment.

Meeker County Sheriff Brian Cruze says a farmer near Cedar Mills on Monday reported minor damage to a combine after a chain was drawn into the machine during harvesting.

Cruze told Minnesota Public Radio News it's premature to speculate on motive. The sheriff says the chain may have been in the corn for weeks or months.

But he says when the farm family got deeper into the crop, it happened again.

Mindy Johnson's family farms about 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans. She says the second incident involved a 6-foot piece of steel rebar pounded into the ground near a cornstalk where it was hard to see.

Johnson says she doesn't know why her family's farm would be singled out.

NAPPANEE, IN

2 brothers killed in farm accident

Two Amish brothers are dead following a farming accident in Kosciusko County, Ind., on Nov. 19, according to WNDU.

According to the Kosciousko Co. coronor Tony Ciriello, the two boys, Jaylin Hochstetler, 5. and Kenton Hochstetler, 3, were hit by a truck.

Ciriello said the boys, who lived on the farm, next to a field with trucks and combines, had been playing outside, while their mother was attending to another child in the house.

The children crossed a fence, and wandered over by the farm machinery during harvest, and apparently crawled under a semi-grain trailer.

The driver of the tractor, 26-year-old Benjamin Tyler Sheets, had just loaded the semi-trailer with some 90,000 pounds of corn before taking off.

"The driver went to move the truck forward and did not see the children, and pulled the truck forward about fifteen feet, and looked in his mirror and noticed the children laying back there," Ciriello said.

Elvington Airfield, UK

JCB breaks world's fastest tractor record

British manufacturing company JCB has the latest bragging rights for the world's fastest tractor. The Fastrac Two successfully topped the Guinness World Record, reaching speeds up to 150 mph, with average runs of 135.91 mph. 

According to Business Insider, the previous record was held by the Fastrac One, which reached speeds of 103.6 mph over the summer. 

The Fastrac Two was modified to break the record but the unmodified version can still travel up to 43 mph, making it the fastest production tractor in the world, according to JCB. 

It has 1,016 horsepower machine gets 5 miles per gallon and can run on vegetable oil, although diesel fuel and a 5.2 gallon fuel tank were used to help break the record. 

WASHINGTON DC

WI team advances in Ag Innovation Challenge

Wisconsin is among the 10 semi-finalist teams to advanice in the American Farm Bureau Federation's 2020 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge.

The competition, now in its sixth year, provides an opportunity for individuals to showcase ideas and business innovations in agriculture. Earning $10,000 and the chance to compete for the Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year, was the Bene Baby Company, Inc, Nekoosa, Wis.

ST. LOUIS, MO

Former Monsanto employee faces espionage charge

Authorities say a 42-year-old Chinese national who worked at Monsanto in St. Louis stole important proprietary property and tried to take it to China.

According to the Associated Press, federal prosecutors announced that Haitao Xiang, was indicted by a federal grand jury on eight charges, including conspiracy to commit economic espionage and three counts of theft of trade secrets.

According to the indictment, Xiang  is accused of taking an algorithm called the Nutrient Optimizer that aimed to improve agricultural productivity.

Federal prosecutors said in a news release the day after Xiang quit at Monsanto, he bought a one-way ticket to China. He was arrested before he boarded his flight and investigators confiscated copies of the Nutrient Optimizer.

MARENGO, IL

2 charged after 2 horses found dead, others malnourished

Authorities say two people have been charged with animal cruelty after two horses were found dead and five others severely malnourished in northern Illinois.

McHenry County Animal Control officers were verifying vaccine records at a dog breeding operation in Marengo when they discovered the horses.

The Hooved Animal Rescue & Protection Society were contacted and found two dead miniature horses that appeared to have starved. Five malnourished horses were also found Friday. They've been taken to a facility for treatment and are expected to recover.

The McHenry County Sheriff's Department said Sunday that two men were charged with cruelty to animals and violating animal owner duties.

The animal rescue group says they'll continue to monitor other horses at the property that did not appear to be neglected.

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