Rural round-up

June 20, 2018

Farmers taking massive blow from disease cull to protect others – Andrew Morrison:

This time last year few of us had even heard of Mycoplasma bovis and now this disease is proving devastating to a group of cattle farmers.

We have seen the heart-wrenching scenes of farmers loading otherwise healthy cows onto trucks headed for slaughter and have listened to the descriptions from farmers who have to wake up every morning to the silence of farms devoid of livestock.

Last month, the Government with industry support made the decision to pursue a phased eradication of this production-limiting disease.

Knowing the pain it was going to cause some farmers meant that it was not a decision made lightly.  These farmers are taking a massive blow to protect the 99 per cent of farmers who don’t have Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) on their properties. We, as an industry, need to do everything we can to support these people both financially and emotionally. . . 

North Otago calves confirmed to have had M bovis -Conan Young:

A North Otago farmer who lost her farm after having to deal with a mystery illness has had it confirmed her calves that year had Mycoplasma bovis.

Susan McEwan’s story featured on RNZ’s Checkpoint and Insight programmes.

At that stage she suspected the reason she lost 600 of the 3000 animals she was raising to arthritis and pneumonia, was due to Mycoplasma bovis, but had no way to prove it. . . 

Farm exports growing – Sally Rae:

A strong export performance and farm profitability results, despite a  variety of challenges, is testament to the resilience of farmers, the Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report says.

That resilience provided confidence  farmers would be able to adapt to future disruptions such as climate change, adverse events or potential trade issues.

It was also reflected in MPI’s medium-term outlook for annual export growth to range between 1.2% to 2.6% between 2019 and 2022.

Primary sector exports are forecast to exceed $46 billion by the end of the outlook period.

Production and export volumes were forecast to be relatively stable, particularly in dairy and meat and wool.  . . 

Keeping tradition alive after 50 years of Feildays – Horiana Henderson:

Kerepehi stalwart, Alex Quinn is committed to Fieldays and has the golden “50 years commemorating support” award, and a cap, to prove it.

In typical fashion, he was to be found amongst the agricultural equipment ready with a big smile and friendly conversation. He is the owner of Quinn Engineering and attended the first Fieldays with his father Eddie Quinn.

In the 1960s, Eddie created a tractor attachment for handling hay called the Baleboy and brought it to market at Fieldays in 1970. .  .

NZ missing a trick when it comes to selling our food overseas – Heather Chalmers:

The Government needs to invest in a national food brand in the same way it spends $100 million each year to promote New Zealand as a tourist destination, says an agrifood marketing expert.

Synlait’s infant formula sold in the United States was “unashamedly branded” as coming from New Zealand grass-fed dairy cows, but most New Zealand products were unbranded, said Lincoln University agribusiness management senior lecturer Nic Lees.

This was despite research that showed most western consumers view New Zealand food as the next best thing to their own products.

“This research was done by the University of Florida. This is an example of how little market research we do as a country into understanding perceptions of our food in different countries.” . . 

Stay ahead of the game deer farmers urged – Alexia Johnston:

Deer farmers are being urged to ”stay ahead of the game”.

Those words of advice were the key theme at this year’s Deer Industry New Zealand (Dinz) annual conference, recently hosted in Timaru.

Dinz CEO Dan Coup said the three-day event, which included a field trip to Mesopotamia Station, was a success, helped by the positive attitude by those in attendance. . .

Getting calves off to a great start – Peter Burke:

Dairy farmers and calf rearers will in a few months be flat-out dealing with new life on farms. AgResearch scientist Dr Sue McCoard and colleagues are working on adding valuable science and data to this important task.

Sue McCoard says she and her fellow researchers, in partnership with the industry, are researching different feeds and feeding management options and their impact on whole-of-life performance. .  .

 

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Rural round-up

April 16, 2018

Farmers have lost faith in MPI – Annette Scott:

Farmers must not let dairy cattle be taken for slaughter till they are sure they will get compensation, Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says.

He wants the Mycoplasma bovis decision-makers to front up as the second round of culling infected herds gets going.

All confidence in compensation promises had been lost, he said.

The Ministry for Primary Industries late last month said a further 22,300 cattle from all infected properties will be killed by the end of May. . . 

Science and technology at every farmers’ fingers tips – Pat Deavoll:

In the three and a half years I have spent as a farming reporter, nothing has struck me more than how hi-tech the industry has become.

Gone are the days when a farmer could step into his father’s shoes and expect to follow the same time-tested methods and be successful.

In this age of uber-production, every sector is based on an application of science, research and technology that is changing at a mind-boggling rate. And farmers are required to change with it. In fact, I read somewhere that by 2025 farmers will need a tertiary qualification to keep up. . .

Lactoferrin – a magic ingredient – Hugh Stringleman:

Lactoferrin became the flavour of the month when Fonterra’s giant New Zealand Milk Products division held an exhibition of its advanced ingredients on the day rival processor Synlait said it will double its production of the pricy protein.

Lactoferrin is an iron-binding milk protein distinguished by its pink crystalline form, produced in small quantities and sold for high prices – perhaps $500/kg or more.

NZMP’s display said it takes 10,000 litres of milk and smart freeze-dry technology to make one kilogram of lactoferrin, which has anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and immune-enhancement qualities. . .

Kiwi farmers’ validity at stake – Deborah Rhodes:

As we stare down the barrel of a global consumer revolution we need to be brave to tell them what they want: not what they demand, but what we are going to supply them.

The concept of appealing to every whim of the consumer has driven our farming mentality to that of the oil business: reap now and pay later. Now we are starting to pay as we scramble towards trying to prove in our dairy business that we are different from the rest, and we are — but for how long? . . .

Good – could have done better at Owl Farm – Mark Daniel:

It’s been a challenging season down on the banks of the Waikato River for St Peters School’s Owl Farm.
Tracking behind the previous season, the farm is hoping an extended lactation will help pull things back into line.

Visitors at a farm focus day in late March were told that overall production is down by about 5000kgMS (-3%) and still trending downward.

The farm has more cows (412) than last season (378) but performance per cow has been lower, as has the average yield of 363kgMS versus last year’s 370kgMS in the same period. . . .

As dairy crisis crushes farmers, Wisconsin’s rural identity in jeopardy – Rick Barrett:

Kyle Kurt fought to keep his emotions just below the surface as he talked about selling off his herd of Holstein dairy cows, which he’s milked twice a day, 365 days a year, through good times and bad.

Dairy farming has been Kurt’s livelihood, and his passion, since he graduated from Lodi High School 18 years ago. But come Monday, he’s having an auction to sell his cows, his milking equipment, his tractors and other farm machinery that he’s spent years acquiring.

It’s probably the toughest decision I have ever had to make,” Kurt said, “but I have been told it’s going to be a big weight lifted off my back.”

Scores of Wisconsin farmers are in a similar predicament. And with them, a way of life that has defined much of the state for more than a century and a half is disintegrating. . .


Dairy following failed example of meat industry

March 14, 2018

Have we reached peak dairy factory?

The number of dairy factories sprouting in Waikato has got to the stage that farmers are concerned the industry has reached a tipping point.

They fear further growth could lead to overcapacity – too many milk processing sites – and dairying will follow the path of the meat industry, which over the past decade has been plagued by plant closures and job losses. . .

Fonterra Shareholder’s Council chairman and Waikato farmer Duncan Coull​ says it is becoming a national issue for the industry. It is bigger than Fonterra and an industry-wide discussion is needed to find a way to save it from itself.

“Do farmers really want to reach that tipping point because once that tipping point is reached, there is no turning back. We need to start asking ourselves the question as farmers what we want the industry to look like going forward.

“If farmers continue to allow capacity to be built and continued to supply that capacity, be very careful what we wish for, we are another red meat sector waiting to happen and we are another Australian dairy industry waiting to happen.” . . 

Farmers like some competition but it the meat industry found out at great cost – in money and human terms – that it is possible to have too much competition.

Synlait chief executive John Penno​ says the dairy industry is already at overcapacity and the vast bulk of the processing technology built in recent years has been large-scale milk powder plants producing dairy commodities.

“There’s no question in my mind that overcapacity across the industry exists. But the real question is, is it the right capacity? What is the total capacity is the wrong question.”

Synlait does not operate in that market and builds plants focusing on high-end, value-added products. . ..

Farmers are free to choose which company they supply.

A new one might look attractive, especially if it doesn’t require suppliers to buy shares.

But the lesson from the meat industry is that more competition isn’t always better for farmers or the industry.


Rural round-up

March 3, 2018

Hauraki Plains dairy farmer elected to oversee the creation of Auckland educational farm:

A respected Hauraki Plains dairy farmer will lead the board overseeing the development of a new educational farm in Auckland.

Julie Pirie has been elected to chair the five-member Donald Pearson Farm Board.

The 74-hectare dairy farm in South Auckland was gifted to NZ Young Farmers by the late Donald Pearson last year. . . 

Slim pickings: Worker shortage leaves apple farms frantic – Anusha Bradley:

Apple growers in Hawke’s Bay are preparing to work around the clock to cope with what’s being described as an extreme shortage of seasonal workers.

Orchardists said they have less have than half the workers they need, and despite a recruitment campaign, are failing to attract the usual hordes of backpackers they rely on.

Hastings-based Bostock is the largest producer of organic apples in the country.

Bostock human resources manager Vikki Garrett said usually they’d hire about a 100 or so backpackers, but had only managed to recruit 10. . . 

Bug’s impact on horticulture devastating, report says:

An economic report, released today, says if the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) establishes in New Zealand it would dramatically impact New Zealand’s gross domestic product (GDP) as well as export revenues from horticulture.

Prepared by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER), Quantifying the economic impacts of a Brown Marmorated Stink Bug incursion in New Zealand, shows GDP falling between $1.8 billion and $3.6 billion by 2038, and horticulture export value falling between $2 billion and $4.2 billion by 2038. . . 

Agriculture exporters meet to discuss issues:

Key stakeholders in the agro-export market today gathered to discuss possible solutions to address pertinent issues faced by exporters in the export pathways.

While officially opening the Agriculture Exporters Symposium at the Tanoa Plaza Hotel this morning, Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, Mr. David Kolitagane said the objective of the workshop was to address constraints in the agro-export pathway as the impact of the contribution of agricultural exporters was integral to economic development.

“The rationale for organizing today’s symposium is to address constraints in the export pathway, collate information and make appropriate and . . .

Farmers left in limbo as Mycoplasma Bovis takes hold:

With just one month to go until a decision will be made, farmers will understandably be left confused and anxious about whether the Government is going to eradicate the crippling cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis, National’s Primary Industries spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) officials appeared before the Primary Productions Select Committee at Parliament this morning to answer questions about how the Government plans to contain the spread, compensate farmers for their losses and ultimately to eradicate it. . . 

Tractors lead agricultural imports:

Tractor imports have remained at high levels in January 2018, continuing the trend for the last year, Stats NZ said today.

The value of imported tractors rose $27 million (191 percent) in January 2018 from January 2017. For the year ended January 2018, values were up 51 percent compared with the January 2017 year.

“Imports of tractors can be an indicator of confidence in the agriculture industry,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. “The last time we imported this many tractors was in 2014 when dairy prices were at their peak.” . . 

Deborah Marris joins Synlait leadership team:

Synlait will welcome Deborah Marris to the Executive Leadership Team in the role of General Counsel and Head of Commercial on Monday 5 March.

“Deborah’s outstanding legal and commercial background makes her the perfect person to join our team. Our rapid growth requires strong leadership in this area and Deborah has the skills, foresight and international experience to support us well,” says John Penno, Managing Director and CEO.

Ms Marris’ role will encompass legal affairs, risk, corporate governance, insurance and commercial matters, including customer and supplier contractual relationships. . . 

NZ King Salmon sees weaker second half on hot summer; 1st-half profit soars 81% – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand King Salmon says the “extraordinarily hot summer” has cut survival rates at its fish farms in the Marlborough Sounds and it expects weaker second-half earnings after profit in the first half soared 81 percent.

Profit rose to $15.7 million in the six months ended Dec. 31 from $8.7 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Sales climbed to $87.7 million from $63.6 million. . . 

Seeka annual profit falls 44% on lower kiwifruit volumes, impaired banana business – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Seeka posted a 44 percent decline in annual profit as Australasia’s biggest kiwifruit grower booked a $2 million charge on its banana sourcing unit while managing a decline in kiwifruit volumes.

Net profit fell to $5.8 million, or 34 cents per share in calendar 2017, from $10.4 million, or 62 cents a year earlier, the Te Puke-based company said in a statement. The year-earlier figure was bolstered by a $3.1 million gain on an insurance payment. Revenue fell 2 percent to $186.8 million. . .

Comvita swings to first-half profit, reiterates full-year guidance – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, the mānuka honey company, swung to a first-half profit on strong sales growth and a recovery in the “grey” or informal sales channel into China and reiterated its full-year earnings guidance despite bad weather hitting the 2018 honey season.

The Te Puke-based company reported a net profit of $3.7 million, or 8.31 cents per share, in the six months to Dec. 31 versus a loss of $7.1 million, or 17.18 cents, in the prior period. In January the company said net profit would be more than $3 million. Sales reached $83.6 million versus $57.7 million in the prior year. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were $9.9 million versus an ebitda loss of $2.8 million in the same period a year earlier. . . 


Rural round-up

December 8, 2017

Dairy not all about milking it:

A Lincoln University pilot study is backing the importance of environmental and social responsibility, as well as the bottom line, to dairy farmers.

Seeing themselves as “guardians of their land” and adopting environmentally friendly ways of farming is a key component of the farmers’ personal convictions.

The study, What really drives dairy production systems: economic rationale or social and environmental responsibility? surveyed owners, share milkers and managers, to format a questionnaire for much larger sample of interviews with farmers, due to take place in January. . .

Day a chance to experience life on a farm – Sally Rae:

When Duncan Wells left secondary school, he was encouraged not to go farming.

It was during the farming downturn in the 1980s and his farming father suggested he get some other skills.

So he became an electrician and worked for a few years before giving in to his passion for the dairy sector.

Now Mr Wells and his wife Anne-Marie are sharing that passion with others – opening the gates of their Outram dairy business, Huntly Road Dairies, to allow the public to experience a taste of farm life.

On Sunday, Fonterra has organised an ”open gates” initiative, with 40 selected farms around the country opening for the day. . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand supporting sustainable hill country scientific programme:

A scientific programme aimed at improving the sustainability of hill country for sheep and beef farming is to be launched with the support of Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

The project, which is backed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Partnership Scheme, will look at ways to invigorate hill country by developing sustainable production systems.

A strategy and action plan to increase the sustainability of hill country farming (economic, environmental, social and cultural) will be one of the key pr iorities for the initiative.  . . 

NZ Beef prices expected to hold firm in the face of expanding global production:

New Zealand beef prices moved marginally higher in quarter three and are expected to hold relatively firm in the coming months despite expanding global beef production generating intense competition in global markets, according to Rabobank’s latest Beef Quarterly report.

Rabobank animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate said stronger-than-anticipated demand for New Zealand beef in key export markets, combined with restricted domestic supplies and a weakening New Zealand dollar, resulted in a marginal increase in New Zealand slaughter prices in quarter three. . . 

Focus on New Zealand brands needed in face of trade uncertainty:

Uncertainty over Brexit means New Zealand needs to urgently focus on developing brands and differentiating our agricultural exports.

Senior lecturer in Agribusiness Management Dr Nic Lees, said New Zealand produces some of the best fruit, wine, meat, seafood and dairy products in the world but around 70 per cent reaches the consumer with no identification that is sourced from here.

“Sudden changes such as Brexit remind us that relying on undifferentiated commodity exports leaves us vulnerable to sudden changes in government policies,” Dr Lees said.

“When consumers demand a branded product, it is difficult for governments to shut it out of the market.” . .

Fonterra imposes grading system on milk fat with ‘excessive’ PKE, Fed Farmers confirms – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group has followed through on its work into the impact of palm kernel expeller on the composition of fat in the milk it collects with a grading system that will start in September 2018.

The new system follows consultation with farmers and is the latest step in Fonterra’s efforts to reinforce its Trusted Goodness logo, which is designed to appeal to consumers who want sustainable and ethical practices in food production and is underpinned by New Zealand’s “natural, grass-fed advantage”. But Fonterra’s research has shown that PKE also has implications for dairy product manufacturing and sales in global markets of products such as butter. . . 

New PKE grading system warrants contractual clause change for farmers:

Federated Farmers is reminding dairy farmers and sharemilkers to update existing business agreements as they face joint liability to meet upcoming changes for using palm kernel (PKE) as feed.

Dairy co-operative Fonterra is introducing a grading system next September to measure milk fat composition, which changes with excessive use of PKE impacting on manufacturing capability and seasonal customer preferences.

Fonterra farmers who don’t comply with new recommended levels for cows’ PKE intake will be penalised. . . 

Synlait opens new Wetmix kitchen:

Synlait Milk  has today officially opened its new Wetmix kitchen, which will enable it to simultaneously run both large-scale infant formula spray dryers.

This will double the amount of infant formula powder which can be produced at the Dunsandel site, from 40,000 metric tonnes (MT) to 80,000 MT per year.

“We were at the point where our current Wetmix facility was at capacity, and our consumer demand was continuing to grow. Building this new Wetmix kitchen will relieve that pressure,” says John Penno, Managing Director and CEO. . . 

New arrangement simplifies meat exports to Egypt:

A new arrangement signed recently will simplify New Zealand’s meat product exports to Egypt, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said today.

Under the new arrangement, Egyptian authorities will no longer have to visit each individual meat premises that wishes to export to Egypt.

The arrangement was signed by MPI Director-General Martyn Dunne and Egyptian Deputy Minister for Agriculture Dr Mona Mehrez in Wellington. . . 


Rural round-up

September 29, 2017

NZ beef prices drop marginally lower with further downward pressure expected – industry report:

A strong New Zealand dollar and declining US imported beef prices have seen New Zealand beef prices drop marginally lower over the past quarter. And further downward pressure on beef prices is expected as the year progresses, with increased Japanese tariffs on frozen beef imports creating additional headwinds for Kiwi exporters, according to Rabobank’s latest Beef Quarterly report. . .

Synlait Receives CFDA Registration of the A2 Milk Company’s Infant Formula:

Synlait has received registration which will allow exports of The a2 Milk Company Limited’s China label infant formula to China to continue.

All manufacturers of infant formula are required to register brands and recipes with the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) in order to import products into China, through traditional import channels, from 1 January 2018. . .

GlobalDairyTrade beefs up offering with multi-seller pools of US lactose products – Rebecca Howard

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group’s GlobalDairyTrade platform, which has moved more than US$20 billion in dairy products since it launched in 2008, is looking to broaden its offering to meet customer needs.

“We are continually innovating and always looking for these expansion ideas,” Eric Hansen, director of GlobalDairyTrade, told BusinessDesk. . .

Science And Innovation Key to Farming’s Future, Says Dairynz Candidate:

Sustainability and scientific innovation is high on the agenda of Waikato dairy farmer Grant Coombes.

As a candidate for the DairyNZ Board of Directors, Coombes says it’s time for farmers to embrace new technology and innovation as a way forward, to tackle issues such as environmental sustainability. . .

App to Combat Kauri Dieback Disease – an Environmental Game-changer:

There is a game-changing tool on the way in the war against kauri dieback disease which is having a devastating effect on New Zealand’s native forests.

Thanks to the 2016 WWF-New Zealand Conservation Innovation Awards, sustainable land management group Groundtruth is developing a Stop Kauri Dieback app that will support community engagement and management of kauri dieback. The fungus-like disease with no known cure is killing kauri forests in Northland, and kauri could become extinct in some locations without urgent action. . .

Growers of NZ goes live on Instagram:

Global interest in the story behind healthy, fresh food has inspired Horticulture New Zealand to start an Instagram page where people can better get to know the fruit and vegetable growers of New Zealand, Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

Growers of New Zealand (@growersofnz) went live yesterday and already has sparked interest from New Zealand and around the world. Each week a grower will be profiled at work, and the seasonal crop they have been working with will be highlighted in a recipe. . .

Hangawera Station Hereford bull sale ready for auction:

Tainui Group Holding’s annual Hangawera Station Hereford sale is set to go with over 180 pure-bred, vaccinated and tested bulls being auctioned on Monday 2nd October.

TGH’s Primary Industries Manager Mark Jackways says they expect a solid auction turnout, much like previous years, given strong market demand for quality bulls, as dairy herds re-stock after a tight couple of years. . .


Rural round-up

January 5, 2017

From backwater to water ‘battleground’ – Sally Rae:

Farming in the Omarama area these days is very much like farming in the proverbial fish-bowl.

The spotlight is on both the Upper Waitaki and neighbouring Mackenzie district with changing land-use, water quality and environmental issues to the fore.

Twenty years ago, Omarama barely registered on the map; rather it was ”somewhere to drive through at high speed” to get to Wanaka or Queenstown, sheep and beef farmer Richard Subtil, from Omarama Station, said.

Bellamy’s organic infant formula derails in China – Keith Woodford:

For the last two years, Bellamy’s organic infant formula out of Australia has been one of the two rising stars of the Chinese infant formula market. The other has been ‘a2 Platinum’ produced here in New Zealand by Synlait for The a2 Milk Company (ATM).

In recent weeks, the Bellamy’s business has run badly off the tracks. This has sent jitters more widely through the infant formula industry.

First, there was a cautious market guidance release by Bellamy’s on 2 December, and the Bellamy’s share price immediately crashed 40%. Then on 12 December, Bellamy’s asked that its shares be suspended from trade for 48 hours while they assessed their position. This suspension has subsequently been renewed twice and currently runs through to 13 January 2017 while further assessment occurs. . .

Dairy turmoil shows folly of narrow focus;

Farming does not get the public attention is deserves these days, until this time of year when any road journey out of the cities reveals what a wealth of beauty and prosperity the countryside contains. Many farms somehow managed to look prosperous to the urban eye even when the main industry of most – dairying – was in the doldrums. But at least this summer, city holidaymakers on the roads can look at those verdant pastures and know that this, at last, is a happy new year for rural New Zealand too.

After two years of depressed dairy prices, the market began to turn in the middle of last year and for the past few months the price of milk powder has been back above break-even levels for most producers. Furthermore, there is every reason to believe the slump is over. The over-supply that caused it, largely from Europe, has been reduced or consumed and this season’s supply better matches demand.

The end of the world as we know it: What a vegan New Zealand would look like. – Jon Morgan:

Over Christmas lunch an earnest young niece asked, what did I have against vegans. I replied, nothing.

A couple of people I know profess to be vegans, migrating there from simple vegetarianism. They have to go to great lengths to ensure they have a balanced diet and I worry for their children, but otherwise they’re perfectly likable.

It’s the militant vegans I can’t stand, I told her. They’re the ones who have made veganism into a nefarious political movement, with the closure of all animal farms as their primary goal. . .

Rustlers take 1400 lambs in massive stock heist:

A Whanganui farmer has lost 1400 lambs to rustlers in what might be the largest stock heist in the country.

Police say they received a complaint about the theft from an owner of a property near Fordell.

More than 1400 lambs, worth about $120,000, reportedly went missing between October 25 and November 7, this year.

“That could be one of the biggest thefts involving sheep in the country,” Harry Matthews, president of Whanganui Federated Farmers, said. . . 

Texus Fibre eyes $2.9b face mask market in Asia :

A Kiwi company has secured a deal it hopes will unlock a lucrative $2.9 billion Asian healthcare market.

Texus Fibre uses natural wool to develop ‘functional materials’ – meaning they do something clever scientifically.

On Thursday it announced an investment and distribution deal with Auckland firm Healthy Breath Limited (HBL) for Texus’ wool-based air filter to be used in face masks marketed to city-dwellers in Asia. . .

 


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