Rural round-up

February 24, 2019

Don’t take us for mugs – Katie Milne:

Farmers are out of patience with local and regional councils treating them as cash cows.

A recent Federated Farmers survey shows fewer than 4% of farmers believe they get good value for money from their local government rates. It is local government elections this year and those wannabe councillors chasing farmer votes can expect some pointy questions from our sector.

Such as: why have average council rates in New Zealand jumped 79.7% between June 2007 and June 2017, when inflation (CPI) for the same period was only 23.1%? . . 

Not so wild about pines:

Concerns about the continued spread of wilding pines are coming from both ends of the country.

Warnings have been sounded in recent weeks about the serious menace not only to the high country but also to Northland’s coastal margins and dune lakes.

NZ Deerstalkers’ Association spokesman Bill O’Leary, of Nelson, says recent events have highlighted the fire risk. . . 

NZ Young Farmers club established in Kaikoura

A new group has been set up in Kaikoura to help connect young people with an interest in the agri-food sector.

A NZ Young Farmers club has been established, after new resident Hannah Bradshaw noticed a need.

“I moved to Kaikoura late last year. The first thing I noticed was the district didn’t have a place where like-minded young people working in the rural sector could connect,” she said. . . 

Drought or tempest on a farmer’s land may fall – Samantha Motion:

“Worm or beetle, drought or tempest on a farmer’s land may fall. Each is loaded full o’ ruin but the mortgage beats ’em all.”

Growing up, a cheery cross stitch bearing this quote by American poet Will Carleton hung in the hall of my family’s farmhouse near Rotorua.

It was meant to be a light-hearted message, I think, but the older I got and the more I understood about the family business, the more ominous I found the words. . . 

 

 

Today’s extreme winter weather can impact tomorrow’s crop farming – Jim Foerster:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 90% of crop losses are related to extreme weather – but it’s not just the direct impact of summer drought, floods and severe storms. Last week’s cold snap – and others that could still happen in these final weeks of winter – will have significant impact on crops that we may not see for months.

While it’s easy to see how the extreme cold can impact farm-related things like livestock safety, fresh water availability and farm machinery, there are many other impacts of the cold as well. With more than 127 million acres of agricultural land in the Midwest, it’s got crop farmers thinking about the future impact of this cold on crops, particularly the 25% of the land that is used for winter wheat, and perennial crops like alfalfa and fruit trees and bushes. . . 

Lab-grown meat could be worse for the environment – Kristin Houser:

Meat farming is a major contributor of the greenhouse gases driving climate change. To ensure we never have to choose between a livable planet and a juicy hamburger, scientists are attempting to efficiently grow convincing imitation meat in the lab using everything from volcano-dwelling microbes to stem cells.

But new research suggests the efforts of those scientists might be in vain — it turns out that growing meat in the lab might actually do more damage to the environment than producing it the traditional way.

Meat Market

For their study, published Tuesday in the journal Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, researchers from the Oxford Martin School compared the potential impact on the global temperature over the next 1,000 years of three cattle farming methods and four potential methods for growing meat in the lab. . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 3, 2019

January ‘hottest month’ on record but farmers say growing season ‘extraordinary‘ – Matt Brown:

January in Marlborough has matched the record for the region’s hottest month since records began in 1932.

The month also smashed the record for days above 30C, with 10 sweltering days compared to the previous record of six in 1990.

But hotter days and cooler nights saw the month tie with January 2018 and February 1998 for the title of ‘hottest ever month’ in Marlborough with the mean temperature of 20.7 degrees Celsius, Plant and Food Research scientist Rob Agnew said. . .

 Up to 75 jobs from new North Waikato chicken hatchery – Gerald Piddock:

The opening of a multimillion dollar chicken hatchery in Waikato’s north has bought with it between 50 and 75 jobs and economic benefits to the entire region, say locals and iwi leaders.

Owned by American poultry giant Cobb Vantress, the $70 million hatchery in Rangiriri West, north of Huntly, currently employs 50 staff. That will expand to between 70-75 people once it is fully operational later this year.

For locals Stephen Pearce and Phillip Lorimer, employment at the hatchery was too good of an opportunity for locals to pass up. . . 

Rural sector scares off trainees :

Using Landcorp farms in a restructured vocational education training system for the primary industry is one option being considered by the Government.

Farming leaders have called on the Government to buy Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre’s Masterton campus from the liquidators to secure future vocational farm training, saying once gone it will be difficult and costly to replace.

“It is crucial that facility in Masterton remains available to agricultural training,” Federated Farmers chief executive Terry Copeland says. . .

Plantain research a game-changer for farmers :

Game-changing new research into how plantain crops can reduce nitrogen loss from dairy farms will put upper Manawatu farmers at the forefront of dairy science.

Dairy farmers in the Tararua catchment face reducing nitrogen loss from pastures by an average of 60% to meet the Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council’s One Plan targets.

To achieve them farmers are adopting a range of on-farm changes and the region’s new plantain research could be a key component. . .

Farmers sick of being treated as rates ‘mugs’:

Farmers are out of patience with councils that treat them as cash cows, with a new Federated Farmers survey showing less than 4% believe they get good value for money from their rates.

“It’s local government election year and those chasing our votes can expect some very pointy questions on why average council rates in New Zealand jumped 79.7% between June 2007 and June 2017 when inflation (CPI) for the same period was only 23.1%,” Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says. . . 

Navajo shepherds cling to centuries-old tradition in a land where it refuses to rain – David Kelly:

More than a hundred rowdy sheep pressed up against the gates of the corral as Irene Bennalley drew near. Dogs yipped, rams snorted.

Just after 7:30 a.m., she flung open the pen and the woolly mob charged out in a cloud of dust. Well-trained dogs struggled to keep order as the flock moved across the bone-dry earth searching for stray bits of grass or leaves.

“Back! Back!” the 62-year-old Bennalley shouted at the stragglers separating from the flock — ripe pickings for coyotes or packs of wild dogs. . . 

Photos reveal Queensland cotton farms full of water while Darling River runs dry

These photos were taken by the Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick from a light plane over southern Queensland near Goondiwindi, on Wednesday.

They show rivers such as the Condamine relatively full, and storages on cotton farms holding thousands of megalitres of water.

Yet three hours away in north-west New South Wales, the Barwon and Darling rivers are a series of muddy pools. . . 


Rural round-up

January 12, 2019

The story of genetics and Mt Albert’s forbidden fruit – Farah Hancock:

A controversial new apple created by New Zealand scientists has to be seen to be believed – and has to be eaten offshore. Farah Hancock reports.

The red-fleshed apples developed by Plant and Food Research’s scientist Professor Andrew Allan and his team are so contentious they’re not allowed to eat them in New Zealand.

“In the end we had to take them to America.”

The cores were removed from the apples so no seeds were present. They were triple-bagged and sealed. Phytosanitary certificates were gained to get approval to move the apples from their glasshouse in Auckland’s Mount Albert to the airport, and then on to the United States. Allan and the science team flew the precious cargo to San Francisco where a taste-testing panel of 50 people waited. . . 

Good grass growth but drought on horizon if rain delayed for Taranaki farmers – Mike Watson and Leighton Keith:

Taranaki dairy farmers are keeping an eye out for rain clouds with the summer heat taking a toll on grass cover.

Favourable growing conditions since spring, following a devastating one in 40 year drought last summer, meant many farmers had good supply of feed to prepare an extended dry period.

“The conditions have been good, in fact fantastic, to date but it is starting to get dry now and we will be looking for some rain by the end of the month,” Okato farmer Ray Barron said. . . 

Plant pines, not natives to make money from carbon farming, says consultant – Heather Chalmers:

Landowners planting forests for carbon credits should plant pine trees rather than natives to achieve the best returns, a carbon consultant says.  

Ollie Belton, a partner of Permanent Forests NZ a Christchurch-based carbon consultancy, said that the rate that natives absorb carbon dioxide was much lower than for pinus radiata. 

Sequestration calculations used by the Emissions Trading Scheme for forests under 100 hectares showed that pinus radiata absorbed almost 1000 tonnes of carbon over 25 years, while native forests absorbed less than 300 tonnes.     . . 

Short stature corn on the way from Bayer Cropscience – Gil Gullickson:

Farmers who have waded and stumbled through corn decimated by green snap or stalk lodging may be in luck in a few years. Bayer CropScience is developing what it calls short-stature corn that company officials say will likely debut early next decade. Bayer officials discussed this development and others on a conference call this week with agricultural journalists. 

“Over the next two to three years, we will demonstrate them (short-stature hybrids) to growers and give them a feel and sense of how they will work on their farms,” says Bob Reiter, Bayer CropScience head of research and development. “I think this is a little like what was experienced with the Green Revolution in rice and wheat through Norman Borlaug, which is the foundational shift in how crops are produced and how growers will be able to unlock and enjoy additional productivity value.” . . 

Help for SMEs to accelerate Health & Safety appreciated:

Extra investment in workplace injury prevention, with a focus on small to medium businesses, will pay dividends not only in reducing pain and suffering but also in economic terms, Federated Farmers says.

“We see the announcement by ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway this morning of a $22 million, five-year programme to incentivise SMEs to boost Health & Safety efforts as very useful,” Feds President Katie Milne says. . . 

Te Pa Family Vineyards & Cloudy Bay Clams team up for Marlborough Wine & Food Festival 2019:

Two award-winning, family-owned local Marlborough producers, te Pa Family Vineyards and Cloudy Bay Clams, are teaming up for the Marlborough Wine & Food Festival for 2019 and the companies are celebrating their collaboration with a series of exciting events, competitions and food pairings.

The two flourishing Marlborough companies, will be selling award-winning wine and sustainably harvested clams, marking their collaboration at the much-loved festival, which attracts around 8000 guests each year. Attendees can expect to see beautiful fresh clams on the half shell, paired with lively and expressive Marlborough te Pa Sauvignon Blanc, and crispy and decadent fried popcorn clams served with light and effervescent Pa Road Sparkling Rosé. . . 


Rural round-up

November 22, 2018

Will to live response pleasing -Sally Rae:

“Overwhelming” is how Elle Perriam describes the public response to the rural mental health awareness campaign Will to Live.

Targeting young rural men and women, it was launched following the death of Miss Perriam’s boyfriend, Will Gregory, in December last year.

Her target for a PledgeMe crowdfunding campaign to cover the expenses of a regional Speak Up tour in country pubs next year was $15,000.

But with a bit more than $18,000 raised through that, and more sponsors coming on board, she reckoned the amount  raised was now around $20,000. That meant  the number of events  throughout the country could be extended from 10 to 14. Financial contributions had also been matched by “kind affirmations” about the initiative. . . 

Virtual rural health school plan unaffected by Govt move – Mike Houlahan:

A week-old proposal by the University of Otago and other providers to create a virtual school for rural health remains very much alive despite the Government killing off an alternative school of rural medicine this week.

The lead article in last week’s edition of the New Zealand Medical Journal featured a proposal, driven by the University of Otago, University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology (AUT), for a virtual rural health campus.

On Wednesday, Health Minister David Clark announced the Government would not support a Waikato University initiative — which dated from the term of the previous National-led government — to establish a $300 million school of rural medicine. . . 

Shortage of vets cause of concern for rural and urban areas – Matthew Tso:

A national shortage of vets has New Zealand’s multi-billion dollar rural sector on high alert. 

Rural veterinary practices are finding it tough to fill vacant roles – and MPI says this could have an impact on biosecurity surveillance issues.

Miles Anderson, Federated Farmers meat and wool industry group chair, says the dairy, meat, and wool industries are dependent on healthy herds. . . 

Dunne in style:

It was once jokingly said that the next most-important job after the All Blacks coach is the head of the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Joking aside, there is some truth in this because MPI plays a largely unsung, yet critical, role in the lives of every New Zealander.

With the prospect of a world war unlikely, the next most-serious threat to NZ is in biosecurity, food safety, trade and people’s perception of how the precious land we live on is farmed. . . 

Cavalier eyes anti-plastic trend :

Cavalier Corp says it is well-placed to take advantage of a growing consumer shift away from plastics.

That trend fits well with the carpet maker’s renewed focus on its high-quality wool products, particularly higher-margin, niche opportunities and the potential of major markets like the United States and United Kingdom, chief executive Paul Alston said.

“Investment in research and development and creating ranges that command a premium is a priority and critical for our success,” he said in notes for the company’s annual meeting. . . 

 

Quality over quantity: climate change affects volume, but not quality of aquaculture – Matt Brown:

Dairy farming would appear to have very little in common with farming mussels.

But now, a Netherlands-born Southland dairy farmer is taking the mussel capital by storm with his enthusiasm for the green-shelled bivalve molluscs.

Much like dairy farming, the Havelock-based business focused on their commodity product “with value add”.

Mills Bay Mussels owner Art Blom said their point of difference was the ‘raw-shuck’.. . 

Feds President spearheads delegation to Uruguay and Argentina:

Farmers, dairy product manufacturers and trade representatives in Uruguay and Argentina are hearing a New Zealand take on current agricultural issues this week.

Federated Farmers of NZ President Katie Milne is engaged in a busy schedule of speaking and meeting engagements in Montevideo and Buenos Aires in a programme put together by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and New Zealand’s Ambassador to Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, Raylene Liufalani. . . 

Two new faces for Farmlands’ board:

Farmlands’ shareholders have voted two new Shareholder Directors on to the Farmlands Board.

Dawn Sangster and Gray Baldwin join re-elected Director Rob Hewett on the rural supplies and services co-operative’s Board of Directors.

Farmlands Chairman, Lachie Johnstone congratulated the new arrivals to the Board of Directors, as well as thanking the other candidates who put themselves forward for election. . .


Rural round-up

November 19, 2018

The sky’s the limit –  Andrew Stewart::

Intergenerational knowledge has long been a sort of secret ingredient to success in sheep and beef farming in New Zealand. Though that component was vital in the early years of Tom and Sarah Wells farming careers they are also using their passion, drive and determination to forge their own brand of sustainably farmed products. Andrew Stewart reports.

Both Tom and Sarah Wells used to work in completely non farm careers. 

Sarah was a television journalist covering breaking news in a time poor, mentally draining role. 

“I grew up mustering with my father on horseback on the station and I wanted to be a shepherd right through school but somehow lost my way,” she said.

“But there was always a pull back towards the farm.” . . 

 

Farmer tells hearing of importance of irrigation -Mark Price:

The complexities of farming with irrigation in the Lindis and Ardgour valleys of the Upper Clutha were spelled out at an Environment Court hearing in Cromwell this week.

Bruce Jolly, who owns 3000ha “Ardgour” farm, which has 160ha of irrigated land, was the final witness before the hearing was adjourned until January 28.

After seven days of evidence from hydrologists, ecologists and specialists on trout, Judge Jon Jackson ended the hearing a day earlier than planned, admitting in a light-hearted moment, he was somewhat “overwhelmed” and needed a day to reflect on what he had heard.

The Otago Fish & Game Council is arguing 900litres per second of water flowing in the river is required to sustain the brown trout population, while the Lindis Catchment Group (LCG) considers 550litres per second is necessary to sustain irrigation systems. . . 

Council ruminating on re-run rules :

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council is working on the rules for the next election to fill the vacancy on the board that resulted from the incomplete 2018 director election.

Council chairman Duncan Coull said there is a range of scenarios and potentially the second election will not be held until early next year.

The constitution gives discretionary powers over the election procedure to the council and therefore the possibilities are quite wide-ranging, he said.

In the meantime, the board can appoint an interim director but not be one of the three unsuccessful candidates – Ashley Waugh, Jamie Tuuta and John Nicholls. . . 

Tahi Ngātahi enters the workplace:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see a new safety initiative made accessible for the wool industry workforce.

Education is key to improving most aspects of someone’s life, says Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne.

With that attitude in mind it is great to see the successful launch of health and safety programme Tahi Ngātahi at the New Zealand Agricultural Show today, she says. . . 

Sanford’s move up the value chain overcomes climatic vicissitudes –  Jenny Ruth:

 (BusinessDesk) – Sanford says annual earnings fell short of its expectations due to “challenging” climatic conditions leading to a decline in harvest volumes.

However, that impact was more than compensated for by the company’s efforts to extract more value from both its wild and farmed fish and seafood and its underlying earnings rose 1.5 percent.

The fishing company lifted net profit 12.9 percent for the year ended September to $42.3 million, but that was largely driven by an insurance settlement for damage caused to its Havelock mussel processing facility by the Kaikoura earthquake in November 2016. . . 

Te Wera forest agreements secures growth for Taranaki :

China Forestry Group NZ (CFGNZ) is once again backing local wood processing with a ground-breaking agreement on harvesting and processing wood from Taranaki’s largest forest.

China Forestry Group NZ and Taranakipine sawmill in New Plymouth have signed a supply agreement today that supports long term wood processing in New Plymouth and employment for the 170 workers at Taranakipine. It’s another initiative that demonstrates China Forestry Group NZ’s ongoing commitment to New Zealand. . . 

Apple and stonefruit industry members pleased relationship between MPI and US facility now heading in the right direction, but it is just the start for MPI :

The nursery and fruit-growing companies at the heart of the legal action against MPI over seized apple and stonefruit plants and plant material have been working hard to facilitate the rebuilding of the relationship between MPI and the USA-based Clean Plant Centre North West (CPCNW).

Overnight last night at the CPCNW facility in Prosser, Washington, representatives from MPI held their first face-to-face meeting with members of the CPCNW since a discontinued audit in March. . . 

B+LNZ calls for director nominations for annual meeting:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) today announced nominations have opened for two B+LNZ director roles and one position on its Directors’ Independent Remuneration Committee (DIRC).

Under the requirements of the B+LNZ constitution, two electoral district directors and one existing DIRC member retire by rotation at the Annual Meeting. . . 


Rural round-up

November 7, 2018

Farmers re-elect dissident ex-director Leonie Guiney to Fonterra board – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group shareholders have effectively delivered a rebuke to the sitting board by voting to elect outspoken former director Leonie Guiney to the board while failing to support two of three board nominations.

Zespri chairman Peter McBride was also elected to the cooperative’s governance team, but board-backed Maori commercial leader Jamie Tuuta and an incumbent director, Ashleigh Waugh, both failed to gain the 50 percent support required for election to the board, as did self-nominated candidate John Nicholls, leaving one board seat unfilled ahead of Thursday’s annual meeting in Lichfield. . .

Early testing indicates Mycoplasma bovis eradication still possible – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Early results from nationwide bulk milk testing for Mycoplasma bovis suggests eradication remains possible, the Ministry for Primary Industries says.

To date, more than 51,000 of approximately 70,000 tests have been completed and only three farms have been confirmed to have the cattle disease.

Testing to date reinforces the theory the country is facing a single strain of the bacterial infection that affects cows. . .

 

Renewed FTA deal unlikely to bear more benefits for dairy industry – Craig McCulloch:

New Zealand looks highly unlikely to secure a better deal for dairy exporters as part of an improved free trade agreement with China. 

Under the current agreement, New Zealand’s dairy products are hit with higher tariffs once they reach a certain amount.

Those limits automatically expire by 2022 and 2024, but the dairy industry had hoped to bring those dates forward as part of negotiations to upgrade the overall deal. . .

Feds optimistic about local government review:

The thoroughness of an issues paper released today on local government funding and financing is cause for optimism, Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says.

“The Productivity Commission’s paper sets out key topics as it investigates what drives local government costs now and into the foreseeable future, and invites people to comment on the shortcomings of current systems, as well as suggest alternatives. . .

Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year 2019 nominations now open:

As Dairy Women’s Network nears the end of its 20th anniversary, it’s launching into its next celebration by announcing the opening of nominations for the 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year.

Next year will mark the eighth year for the prestigious award which celebrates women who have made outstanding contributions to New Zealand’s dairy industry.

Dairy Women’s Network CEO Jules Benton says with 2019 her first Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year Awards as CEO, she’s looking forward to celebrating the leadership and diversity of women in the dairy industry.

Research forum helps build New Zealand’s primary sector workforce:

The Primary Industry Capability Alliance (PICA) is set to host a one-day research forum for organisations, businesses and government agencies interested in building the human capability of New Zealand’s primary sectors.

Delegates will be updated with the latest analysis, research and various initiatives relating to the sector’s workforce. “For our primary sectors to continue leading the world,” PICA’s CEO Michelle Glogau says, “we need to attract and retain a diverse range of people with different talents in a diverse range of roles. Robotics engineers, geneticists, farm managers…We need 50,000 more people to join the sector by 2025.” . . 


Rural round-up

November 1, 2018

The sun must never set on New Zealand’s agriculture – Keith Woodford:

 These are increasingly troubled times for New Zealand agriculture. A significant proportion of the population has turned against farmers for environmental reasons relating to nutrient leaching and water quality. There is also a loud political narrative about methane from ruminant animals and the need to reduce livestock numbers.

There is also a group of agricultural doomsayers who state that new plant-based foods and even totally artificial foods can mimic meat, and that they will do so at much cheaper cost than the real thing. And finally, there is an increasing group of consumers who are committed to vegan diets for perceived health reasons or relating to personal ethical perspectives. . . 

On the home straight to CPTPPP benefits:

It’s been a long and sometimes bumpy road to achieving a Pacific Rim trade deal but New Zealand producers and our economy will soon reap the benefits, Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says.

“We’re on the home straight. The required six nations have now ratified the 11-nation Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the countdown has started towards the first round of tariff cuts early next year. . . 

CPTPP move momentous for NZ:

ExportNZ says today’s CPTPP ratification by Australia is a momentous day for New Zealand.

Australia’s ratification today of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership has now delivered the quorum required to start the process leading to the CPTPP taking force.

ExportNZ Executive Director Catherine Beard says the CPTPP deal, a tantalising prospect for years, will now become a reality by the end of this year. . .

Bee Keepers Can Now Check Seasonal Weather Outlooks Against High Resolution Land Cover:

Summer likely to lack widespread monthly extremes in temperature and precipitation

The rapidly growing honey industry in New Zealand has had some weather challenges over the last few years. As Karin Kos noted regarding the 2017 season ‘very dry and windy weather was not conducive to honey and due to the nature of the industry unfortunately it is weather dependent’. Bees also find different land covers to exploit depending on the weather with pastures, indigenous forest and manuka/kanuka forests if made available being just a few examples of how bees can change their diet when weather vagaries occur
. . .

Guy Trafford summarises the debate around how we should deal with methane emissions, and introduces you to the global regulation of SLCPs:

The issue around methane is not going to go away. In the last couple of days two respectable and well known identities have commented.

Phil Journeax, currently with AgFirst and previously with MPI as an economist, and Rod Oram a well-known commentator particularly on things rural. They have both tackled the issue around methane, and climate change from different angles.

Largely both correct but could be talking about two totally different things. Confused? It’s likely to get a lot worse before it gets better.

Cars or lisevstock which contribute more to climate change? – Anne Mottet and Henning Steinfeld:

The pitfalls of simplification when looking at greenhouse gas emissions from livestock What we choose to eat, how we move around and how these activities contribute to climate change is receiving a lot of media attention. In this context, greenhouse gas emissions from livestock and transport are often compared, but in a flawed way. The comparison measures direct emissions from transport against both direct and indirect emissions from livestock. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) identifies and monitors human activities responsible for climate change and reports direct emissions by sectors. The IPCC estimates that direct emissions from transport (road, air, rail and maritime) account for 6.9 gigatons per year, about 14% of all emissions from human activities. These emissions mainly consist of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide from fuel combustion. By comparison, direct emissions from livestock account for 2.3 gigatons of CO2 equivalent, or 5% of the total. They consist of methane and nitrous oxide from rumen digestion and manure management. Contrary to transport, agriculture is based on a large variety of natural processes that emit (or leak) methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide from multiple sources. While it is possible to “de-carbonize” transport, emissions from land use and agriculture are much more difficult to measure and control. . . 


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