Rural round-up

July 9, 2013

Call to take multi-party approach – Sally Rae:

The state of the red-meat industry was, not surprisingly, a major topic of conversation at Federated Farmers national conference in Ashburton last week.

A session entitled ”Culture Change: The New Beginning In The Meat Industry” was a focus of the meat and fibre meeting, as agribusiness reporter Sally Rae reports.

Former PPCS chairman Reese Hart believes a merger between the co-operative (now Silver Fern Farms) and Alliance Group is not a priority.

”I simply think there are more important things to be done. I think the merger will happen some day but probably not for the reasons we wanted it to happen five years ago,” Mr Hart told Federated Farmers meat and fibre meeting in Ashburton last week. . .

Beef prices expected to firm -

New Zealand beef prices are expected to firm over the next quarter, partly in response to tighter supplies resulting from the drought, but also to forecasts of a wet winter encouraging producers to retain stock, Rabobank said.

The specialised agribusiness lender said seasonal pressures still exist, but have since improved from the poor conditions in the first quarter.

Most regions received some good rainfall, with temperatures still warmer than average, which has enabled some good pasture growth, the bank said. . .

Debacle carries big implications for farmers – James Houghton:

While Christchurch was taking in the revelations about its council’s chief executive, former Hamilton City Council CEO Tony Marryatt, farmers were discussing the big issues facing agriculture at Federated Farmers’ national conference in Ashburton.

Fittingly, these discussions included a plenary session featuring Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend, Selwyn District Mayor Kelvin Coe and Ashburton District Mayor Angus McKay, looking at local government and its implications for some of its biggest contributors, the rural sector.

Christchurch City Council has hit some serious credibility issues, with International Accreditation New Zealand withdrawing its ability to issue building consents. It is clear council staff were not meeting the required building code standards. It is also clear they were not meeting the required standards of professionalism needed. . .

Soil health key component of farm economics – Gerald Piddock:

Future farm systems can achieve environmental and economic sustainability, but there are no quick-fix solutions for reaching that goal, a DairyNZ scientist says.

Getting there would require a balance between environmental and production- driven goals, DairyNZ senior scientist Pierre Beukes told scientists and farmers at the New Zealand Society of Animal Production Conference in Hamilton.

Farmers would have to build strong system fundamentals based around soil health, nutrients and cows to withstand the future challenge of farming within limits. . .

Healthy pipfruit profits expected – Peter Watson:

The Nelson economy is in for a much-needed boost with the pipfruit season shaping up as the best in five years.

After losing money in three of the last four years, growers expect to bank a modest to healthy profit this year on the back of record prices for many varieties in Europe and Britain and steady growth in Asia.

They have been aided by a shortage of fruit in key markets and a weakening kiwi.. .

New Zealand shearing team has first win:

New Zealand’s shearing test team has tasted success for the first time on its Northern Hemisphere test tour, levelling the eight-match series at one-a-piece.

Golden Shears champion Rowland Smith, from Hastings, and Rakaia’s Tony Coster combined to beat an English test pairing by three points at the Lakelands Shears in Cumbria. . .

Hawkes Bay Winery scoops four medals at San Francisco International Wine Competition:

Hawkes Bay boutique winery Mangapapa Estates has scooped four medals at the prestigious San Francisco International Wine Competition with its Chateau Waimarama branded wines.

More than 4,500 wines were judged at this year’s competition and out of the four wines entered, all Chateau Waimarama wines attained medals, a Gold Medal, two Silvers and one Bronze.

The Gold Medal was for Chateau Waimarama’s 2009 Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon. . .


Rowland Smith Golden Shears champ

March 3, 2013

Hastings-based shearer Rowland Smith has won the 2013 Golden Shears open.

A new shearing champion has been saluted in an emotional end to the 53rd Golden Shears  in which he gave his $3000 prize to help fight cancer.

After his win in an almlost all-Hawke’s Bay race for the “Wimbledon” of shearing in Masterton, 26-year-old Rowland Smith, of Hastings, told the crowd “it’s not for the money,” and bolstered the shears’ cancer research fundraising to over $11,000 from donations and other gifted prizes.

Smith’s own mother died of cancer, making it a particularly poignant moment as shearsgoers got behind woolhandling icon Joanne Kumeroa, battling cancer but still finishing second in her attempt to win the wool industry pageant’s Open woolhandling title for a seventh time.

The shearing final was an exciting contest dominated by four Hawke’s Bay shearers who were separated by less than four-tenths of a point, Smith justifying his TAB favouritism after winning eight other finals in the six weeks leading into Shears week.

With 16-times winner David Fagan missing from the final for only the fourth time in 30 years, Smith was always going to find three  other former winners toughest to beat in defending champion and four-times winner John Kirkoatrick, of Napier, 2006 winner Dion King, of Hastings, and 2010 winner Cam Ferguson, of Waipawa.

 It was King who poured on the pace throughout the contest, finishing the 20 second-shear sheep first in 16min 30.09sec, 16 secoonds ahead of Kirkpatrick, and another 8 seconds ahead of Smith.

With Ferguson next to finish, all four Hawke’s Bay guns put more than a sheep around World champion Gavin Mutch, a Scotsman farming in Taranaki, and Southland hope Nathan Stratford.

The final result was in doubt however until the presentation, with Rowland’s event best 10.45 quality points total securing him the major prize.  King had to settle for second overall, Kirkpatrick third and Ferguson fourth.   

Amazingly, despite his lack of familiarity with the fine-wooled merino, Kirkpatrick was first to finish the multi-breeds PGG Wrightson National Circuit final earlier in the night. Taking 19min 6.862sec for the 15 sheep, half-a-minute slower than the fastest time last year and in nhis first time in the circuit final, he just just pipped 2009-2011winner Tony Coster, of Rakaia, for the major prize.

With points ultimately in the same order as the shearers came off the board, World champion, Scottish national and Whangamomona farmer Gavin Mutch was third and defending champion Angus Moore, from Ward in  Marlborough but now living at Kaitangata, South Otago, was fourth.

The 15 sheep comprised three of each type representing each of the qualifying rounds at Alexandra (fine wool), Waimate (longwool, Alexandra (coarse wool), Raglan (lambs) and Pahiatua (second-shear).

A dramatic Open woolhandling final ended with World champion Joel Henare, 21, of Gisborne, winning the title for the first time after four consecutive second placings in the event. He’s the youngest ever to win the title, and the first male woolhandling champion since Oti Mason, of Dannevirke, won in 2000.

In the other major event of the final night, New Zealand won a shearing test over Australia.

The link in the opening sentence will take you to the full results on Shearing Sports NZ’s website.


Rural round-up

February 4, 2013

Alliance taste testers help guide NZ meat industry – Dave Gooselink:

A team of 50 Southlanders have what some carnivores might see as the perfect job.

They’re the taste testing panel for meat company Alliance, charged with ensuring the company’s export lamb, beef and venison is gourmet quality.

There’s not a lot of conversation around the table. The diners are too busy eating prime cuts of lamb, cooked to perfection by an award-winning chef. It’s their job, making in-depth evaluations of meat.

“You smell it for the aroma, then you bite into it for the texture and succulence, then last of all the flavour,” says veteran meat taste tester Sonja Lindsay. . .

$21m of new funding to benefit research partnerships:

The Government will invest $21 million over a maximum of seven years to support research that will benefit two of New Zealand’s primary industries Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce announced today.

A $16 million investment over seven years will be made in the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium and a $5 million investment over a maximum of seven years will be made in Seafood Innovations Limited.

“Science and innovation are major drivers of economic growth and international competitiveness. These investments will help improve the performance of two key parts of our primary industries, and as a result the New Zealand economy will benefit,” Mr Joyce says.

The Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium — a partnership between AgResearch, DairyNZ, Beef+Lamb NZ, Fonterra, Landcorp Ltd and DeerResearch — will develop new technologies that farmers can use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without loss of productivity. . .

ORC split on water accord – Rebecca Fox:

A decision about whether or not to sign up to the dairy sector’s new water accord has divided Otago regional councillors.

The council, along with others nationally, has been asked to sign up to the accord as a ”friend” but the implications of this worried some councillors, while others were concerned not signing would alienate the dairy sector.

Councillors voted three times before a final decision was made to sign the document – although not all were happy. . .

Winton’s dairy vet woman of year finalist – Sally Rae:

Winton dairy veterinarian and mastitis consultant Kath Taylor is among six finalists in the 2013 Dairy Women of the Year Award.

She has been a dairy vet for 19 years, graduating from Massey University in 1994 and working in mixed practice in Taranaki for the next seven years before moving to Southland in 2001. She works for VetSouth Ltd in Winton, leading the milk-quality team. . .

Shearers take break before big Southland record challenge:

Four shearers are sitting it out in Southland in the countdown to a World Record shearing challenge in which they could shear as many as 3100 lambs between them on Tuesday.

Contractor and event organiser Brendon Potae says he’s given the quartet the weekend off after three hard weeks preparing for the Heiniger Four-stand Crossbred Lambs Eight-Hour World Record, to be shorn at Centre Hill Station, near Mossburn.

“I’ve told them to go fishing, sightseeing,” he said today as he and others from a support crew expected to swell to almost 70 people put finishing touches to the shed where about 250 people are expected to watch the event inside, with others watching on CCTV in marquees nearby. . .

Dancers for Farmarama - Sally Rae:

Tractors, motorbikes, farm machinery and dancing girls will all be on display at the Southfuels Farmarama at Lawrence on February 7 and 8.

The biennial event will be held at the Lawrence gymkhana grounds, opening to the public at 11am on the Thursday and 9am on the Friday. . .

Tru-Test Group acquires NZ’s leading milk containment and refrigeration company, DTS:

Auckland-based agri-tech company Tru-Test Group has today announced the acquisition of Dairy Technology Services from NDA. The move is the second such deal completed by Tru-Test Group in recent months, following its purchase of Radian Technologies (MilkHub) in December.

Dairy Technology Services (DTS) is the leading provider of milk storage and cooling systems in the New Zealand dairy industry. It employs 80 staff in its manufacturing facility in Taranaki and its nationwide sales, installation, repairs and maintenance and customer service operation based in Hamilton.

The deal reflects NDA’s desire to focus on its engineering activities in the dairy processing and transport, chemicals and refining, wine and resources industries. . .

New Record Top Price at Karaka Festival Sale:

Day 1 of New Zealand Bloodstock’s two-day Festival Sale was highlighted by a new top price for this session with the Swiss Ace colt at Lot 1149 fetching $125,000.

From the Hussonet mare Eclaircissement, Lot 1149 from Westbury Stud was purchased by Rogerson Bloodstock for $125,000.

Having a previous affiliation with the family, Rogerson was prepared to go beyond his budget to secure the colt out of a half-sister to multiple stakeswinner Illuminates (Strategic). . . .


Rural round-up

October 31, 2012

Customers attack Sainsbury’s for ditching Red Tractor – Alistair Driver:

SAINSBURY’S has come under fire on its own website over its decision to drop the Red Tractor logo from the food it sells.

Customers have branded the decision a ‘disgrace’ and some are threatening to stop shopping at Sainsbury’s stores until the logo is reinstated. The move has also been attacked by TV presenter Jimmy Doherty, who described it as ‘an odd thing to do’.

The UK’s third biggest retailer announced it was ditching the Red Tractor logo last week, blaming concerns that consumers were becoming confused about the number of labels on food packaging. It is planning to phase the logo out across its products lines, beginning with fresh meat. . .

CAP reform must not overshadow collaboration on family-owned farms -  Tom Levitt:

SMALLER family farms need better access to rural development funds to enable them to break free of subsidy dependence, a meeting of the Family Farmers Association (FFA) in Westminster heard last week.

NFU vice-president Adam Quinney, whose wife now runs the family farm near Redditch, West Midlands, told the audience that CAP funding was still inaccessible and unfavourable to smaller farm enterprises.

He was especially scathing of rural development funding, split between environmental schemes, modernising the farming sector and helping the rural economy. He said it had been largely ‘wasted’. . .

Times change for big show – Jill Galloway:

A & P shows used to be the the highlight of the social calendar for many people. They were the event of the year and there were public holidays, so people had time off to go to the show.

Now there are just two which have statutory holidays – Hawke’s Bay and Canterbury celebrate their anniversary days the weekend of their shows.

“Twenty years ago, it was about the promotion and sale of livestock,” says Manawatu and West Coast A & P president Lawrence Satherley. Now, Manawatu Showtime, being held at Manfeild Park this weekend, is competing against the Tour de Manawatu bicycle race, the Feilding horse races at Awapuni and the stock cars in Palmerston North. . .

Farm Environment Trust Leader Bows Out After Constructive Tenure:

North Waikato farmer Jim Cotman has stood down from his role as chairperson of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust after a very successful six years at the helm.

Since the Trust was established, its flagship event, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, has gone from strength to strength and is now regarded as one of New Zealand’s premier farming awards. The Trust has also developed a range of other initiatives designed to promote environmental sustainability in New Zealand agriculture.

Mr Cotman says the Trust has played a key role in showcasing sustainable farming practices. . .

What NZ agriculture can learn from the i-Phone -  Milking on the Moove:

. . . New Zealand’s agricultural sector could do well to study Apples business model and supply chain design. I’m really struggling to think of a major NZ agribusiness that even attempts a vertical supply chain.

Fonterra is New Zealand’s economic saviour, but Fonterra is a commodity supplier. It is equivalent to a Korean company that supplies a component to Apples iPad or iPhone and receives less than 7% of the final retail price.
The red meat sector is in the same, farmers are relegated down the value chain and as a result receive only a small fraction of the retail price.
Australian dairy farmers are at the mercy of the supermarkets because they don’t control their supply chain. The same is true for our UK dairy farming friends too. . .

Standards met through pond course:

Over 100 contractors and designers of farm dairy effluent (FDE) ponds are the first to complete a training course aligned with new industry standards.

The Farm Dairy Effluent Pond Training Course was established by DairyNZ in conjunction with InfraTrain New Zealand and Opus International Consultants (Opus).

The course is based on Practice Note 21: Design and Construction of FDE Ponds, released by the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) at the end of last year. . .

Australia on top in new Trans-Tasman series opener:

New Zealand has suffered a double defeat in the machine shearing and woolhandling tests against Australia in Warnambool, near Melbourne.

The Shearing Sports New Zealand team did however derive some success, with a victory to its two blades shearers denying Australia a clean sweep of the three matches at Saturday’s Romney Shears, which also incorporated the Australian national championships. . .

Public Consultation Begins On Proposed Agricultural Vehicle Rule Changes

The NZ Transport Agency is seeking public feedback proposed changes to agricultural transport law.

The proposed changes would establish a two-tier system for agricultural vehicles, based on a 40km/h operating speed. Vehicles operating below this speed will be exempt from warrant of fitness and work time requirements. The proposed changes aim to reduce compliance costs and provide greater operational flexibility for vehicle owners, without comprising safety. . .


Fagan father & son double win

July 27, 2012

Father and son wins at the Royal Welsh show have added another chapter to the Fagan shearing legend:

The New Zealand shearing legend David Fagan and his son Jack have scored a remarkable double on one of the biggest shearing stages in the world by winning the open and senior finals at the Royal Welsh Show.

Earlier this year Jeanette Maxwell of Federated Farmers called for shearing to be introduced to the Olympics.

Sir Brian Lochore seconded that:

Sir Brian, a Wairarapa farmer who contested in the first ever Golden Shears in Masterton in 1961, gave an almost “hero” status to today’s modern day international shearing guns in his speech at last night’s (Thursday March 1) Golden Shears World Championship dinner.

“Those competitors who are part of Golden Shears and now the World Championships are part of the World Cup of Shearing. Lets compare it to rugby. When New Zealand hosted the World Cup of rugby, we had the best players – the best prepared. Here in Masterton right now we have those same best players and the best prepared.”

Sir Brian said Golden Shears and the competitors who took part had champion quality.

“I absolutely support that shearing is no longer just a job. I do think that one day you will get it in the Olympics.”

Shearing is one of the most physically demanding occupations, it’s also a sport and those who take part are just as much athletes as those who compete in sports which are already included in the Olympics.


Shearing for Olympics?

January 19, 2012

If sport is defined as an athletic  activity requiring skill or physical prowess  and often of a competitive nature there is no doubt shearing fits.

The most memorable sporting commentary I’ve ever encountered in fiction was Witi Ihimaera’s account of a shearing competition in Bulibahsa and this report on this record -breaking attempt shows it also has spectator appeal:

A world shearing record which stood for 16 years was broken in front of a frenzied crowd of more than 150 packed into a King Country woolshed today.

Stecey Te Huia, of Te Kuiti, and Sam Welch, of Waikaretu, shore a combined tally of 1341 ewes in nine hours to beat by six the previous record of 1335 set by Southlanders Darin Forde and Wayne Ingram in 1996.

If it’s sport, then why not an Olympic one? 

Jeanette Maxwell of Federated Farmers said recordholders could strip more than 700 sheep in eight hours and likened the feat to running back-to-back marathons.

“Our World Championship teams are athletes who take it to another level. Surely, time has come to elevate shearing’s sporting status to the ultimate world stage.

“One way would be to make shearing a demonstration sport at a Commonwealth Games, if not the Olympics itself.”

A spokesman said the New Zealand Olympic Committee took the suggestion seriously and would be behind any attempt to include shearing.

I can see some obstacles, not least of which would be sourcing enough sheep in some of the   host countries and animal welfare issues.

But I disagree with Otago University sports marketing senior lecturer John Guthrie who said it could play up to stereotypes about New Zealand, whose sheep flock is about 10 times the human population.

The best way to counter stereotypes is with education and showcasing shearing at the Olympics would be a very good way to educate people about the skill and athleticism required to do it.

It could also help people trying to market wool to counter the misconception held by too many people that sheep have to be killed before the fibre is harvested.


Women’s world shearing title won by Kiwi

January 11, 2012

Te Kuiti shearer Kerri-Jo Te Huia broke a world women’s shearing record by shearing 507 lambs in eight hours, just over one a minute.

If we’re celebrating that we need to congratulate Irish shearer Ivan Scott who broke the men’s world shearing record by shearing 744 lambs, two more than previous record holder Hawkes Bay’s Cam Ferguson who broke the previous record last year.


Bark Up opens eyes to ag

August 30, 2010

A few decades ago most people who didn’t live on farms knew people who did.

That meant young people who might be interested in careers  on farms or in farm support had little difficulty in investigating opportunities.

It’s very different now. New Zealand is much more urbanised and a lot of children grow up with little or no idea about career opportunities in agriculture.

Enter the Haka Bark Up which Sally Rae reports introduced 120 year 10 – 13 pupils to agriculture and supporting industries.

Among the pupils Geraldine High School agriculture teacher Margaret Walker took to last year’s Omarama Bark Up was a teenager “with very little focus on life”.

But when he saw the shearing module, his eyes “lit up with a passion”, and now, 12 months down the track, he is about to start an apprenticeship.

That teenager, who would have otherwise dropped out of school, now has introductory qualifications through Tectra.

“Now he’s just waiting to sign on the dotted line for his apprenticeship. You couldn’t ask for a better story. From a kid who was just going to drop out, to a kid with a passion.”

When the ag-sag of the 80s hit job opportunities were lost on farms and in farm support. For a couple of decades agriculture hasn’t been on the radar for a most young people when they’re considering what they want to do when they leave school.

But changes in farming fortunes in recent years, especially but not only in dairying, have led to more employment opportunities.

Initiatives like the Bark Up are good for both young people whose eyes are opened to opportunities in agriculture and the people who could employ them.


Training cheaper without Meat & Wool

July 1, 2010

Meat and Wool New Zealand is no more. From today farmer levies fund only meat and the industry good organisation is now Beef and Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

One of the major concerns about losing the levy from wool was training for shearers and wool handlers. However, the ODT reports that training fees have been agreed which could cost farmers as little as a cent a sheep.

Woolhandlers and shearing contractors are hailing the agreement, which will see Tectra set new training course fees to take account of the absence of wool levy funding, which will also ensure the industry can continue to leverage some taxpayer funding for training.

New Zealand Shearing Contractors’ Association president Barry Pullin said how each contractor implemented the new regime was up to them, but it reflected the fact other industries expected their staff to contribute towards training costs.

Those costs would be as little as 1c a sheep, substantially less than the 21c a sheep wool growers paid as part of their wool levy to Meat and Wool New Zealand.

“What’s wrong with that? If we can do it for 1c a head when previously under the name of wool harvesting it cost 21c a sheep, it’s got to be better,” Mr Pullin said.

With wool prices in the doldrums still, a reduction in the cost of training the people who shear and handle it will be very welcome.


Where there’s wool . . .

April 6, 2009

We watched shearers taking the fleeces off sheep in amazement in Cumbria in amazement. It wasn’t so much wool as hair and it was going to be burned.

That would never happen in New Zealand, we said with just a touch of smugness, because when you don’t have subsidies you wouldn’t waste your energy and money on sheep with worthless fleeces.

But we spoke too soon. The ODT reports that when the costs of shearing came to more than the returns from wool Bruce Willis, chair of Federated Farmers Meat & Wool section, decided to farm sheep for meat only.

Merino is doing better, helped by quality products and niche marketing with brands like Icebreaker and Untouched World, but strong, or coarse as it is so prosaicly called – wool has gone backwards.

Much of the world covers their floors in tiles rather than carpets and research into alternative uses for the fibre has had mixed success.

There was hope that wool could be used to soak up oil spills but that doesn’t seem to have gone anywhere. Wool insulation had a point of difference with consumers who prefer natural to synthetic fibres but isn’t widely used.

AgResearch’s stab and flame resistant wool fabric aroused interest at last year’s fashion week, but we need much more than that or a lot more farmers will be farming sheep for meat not fibre because where there’s wool there’s not much money.


Mother-daughter duo sets world shearing records

January 13, 2009

Margaret Baynes and her 22 year-old daughter Ingrid have set the first women’s two-stand eight hour lamb shearing record.

TVNZ reported (not yet on line) that they had aimed to shear 800 lambs but managed to shear more than 900, with Ingrid shearing a few more than her mother.

Record attempts are refereed with points off for cuts or wool left on so it’s not just quantity but quality which counts.

UPDATE: The story is now on-line at TVNZ:

They hoped to shear 800 lambs but managed 923 collectively. Ingrid, with 470, pipped her mother’s total.


Shear Blacks win 4 world titles

October 9, 2008

New Zealand’s premier shearing team, the Shear Blacks, has returned from the World Championships in Norway with four of a possible six titles.

41-year-old Paul Avery has spent 20 years shearing competitively. He last qualified for the world champs in 1998, but that year shearing legend David Fagan won.

With the help of an AMP scholarship, Mr Avery spent a month in Norway getting to know the local sheep.

“There lamb is like half as big again, like 50 to 60 kilos,” he says. “And they are crazy to shear they are kicking all the time. Even when you are sitting down at the end of a day shearing, sitting on the couch watching TV, you find your muscles are all tense and you’ve got to try and make yourself relax.”

Mr Avery was part of a team which won four out of a possible six titles. The team’s organiser says the results prove shearing is now a New Zealand sport in its own right.

“We have been funded by SPARC,” John Fagan from Shearing Sports NZ says. “Being an Olympic year this year, they didn’t fund us. But we are recognised as a sport.”

WHile I’d admired the skill and fitness of shearers I’d never really appreciated shearing as a sport until I read the account of a Golden Sheras final in Witi Ihimaera’s novel Bulibasha.


NZ 3 – Wales 0

July 28, 2008

Ah well, we didn’t win the rugby in Sydney, but our shearers had a 3-0 whitewash in a test series in Wales.

The team, comprising Golden Shears and New Zealand championships winner and runner-up John Kirkpatrick, of Napier, and Paul Avery, of Toko, near Stratford, won the final test by just a point in a close and exciting 20-sheep duel at the Corwen Shears, in north Wales at the weekend.

They had scored a 10-point win the opening test at Lampeter the previous weekend, and a one-point win in the second test at the Royal Welsh Show on Thursday.

Avery, who won both the Golden Shears and New Zealand titles in 2007 before bowing to Kirkpatrick in this year’s event, completed a remarkable series of individual wins on tour by claiming the Corwen Shears open title, with Kirkpatrick second and King Country icon David Fagan third.

Shearing is often overlooked as a sport, but there is no doubting the fitness and skill of the competitors nor the excitement of a close match. Although I didn’t really appreciate this until I read the commentary of a Golden Shears final in Witi Ihimaera’s novel, Bulibasha.


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