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Florida Citrus Mutual Thanks Supporters of Farm Bill

January 30th, 2014 by tamara

LAKELAND, Fla. (January 30, 2014) – The country’s largest citrus grower organization offered members of the Florida Congressional delegation a sincere “Thank You” Thursday; a day after the U.S. House of Representatives approved a Farm Bill containing $125 million in citrus research funding over the next five years.

“The vast majority of Florida’s House members stepped up to the plate on behalf of agriculture to pass a solid Farm Bill that directs our nation’s farm policy in the right direction for the next five years,” said Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. “The investment in citrus research is going to go a long way in uncovering solutions to citrus greening disease which in turn will help preserve a way of life for communities across Florida.”

“So to Representatives Bilirakis, Brown, Buchanan, Castor, Crenshaw, Diaz-Balart, Frankel, Garcia, Hastings, Murphy, Nugent, Rooney, Ross, Ros-Lehtinen, Southerland, Wasserman Schultz, Webster and Yoho I say ‘Thank You’!” Sparks said. “Of course Senator Bill Nelson on the Senate side, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack have been huge in this effort as well.”

The citrus research initiative will be overseen by Secretary Vilsack, in consultation with industry stakeholders from Florida, California and Texas. A committee made up of nine representatives from those states will make funding decisions which must be approved by the Secretary.

Citrus greening is a bacterial disease vectored by the Asian citrus psyllid. It attacks the vascular system of a tree and can kill it within two years. Citrus greening is endemic to Florida and can be found in all 32 commercial citrus producing counties.

The Florida citrus industry creates a $9 billion annual economic impact, employing nearly 76,000 people, and covering about 530,000 acres. Founded in 1948, Florida Citrus Mutual is the state’s largest citrus grower organization. For more information, visit www.flcitrusmutual.com. To receive winter weather updates follow FCM on Twitter.

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Florida orange growers merit help on citrus greening

November 28th, 2016 by tamara

Special column by Rep. Vern Buchanan to the Bradenton Herald – November 23, 2016

Florida orange farmers: Help is on the way!

Florida’s orange farmers are in the fight of their life, and more than 60,000 jobs are at risk.

The culprit? Citrus greening, an incurable bacterial disease that is rapidly spreading across the state’s groves. Experts project a 26 percent decline in Florida’s signature orange crop for this upcoming season — the worst in over 50 years.

The disease, also known as “yellow dragon disease,” arrived in Florida in 2005 and has since infected 99 percent of commercial citrus groves in the state.

From sunrise to sundown, every season, these farmers have seen the destruction that citrus greening has caused since it surfaced in South Florida nearly a decade ago.

They’ve seen the dead roots, the small, discolored fruit, and the drop in production. They’ve watched as family farms, handed down from generation to generation, have spiraled into jeopardy, and later into foreclosure. In fact, right in our district, we have some longtime citrus farms that have even started to plant other crops, like bamboo, to make sure their business stays viable.

In fact, the incurable bacterial disease has caused more than $4 billion in economic damage while eliminating 8,000 jobs, according to a study done four years ago by the University of Florida. And Florida Citrus Mutual, our state’s leading citrus association, estimates that those numbers have doubled in the past four years.

The tens of thousands of employees in the citrus industry are understandably worried.

Recently, a fourth-generation Florida farmer told me that “I know a lot of people whose children are going to law school, business school or medical school to get away from citrus. I do not want my son to become a lawyer; I want him to become a citrus grower, and I’m worried he won’t get that chance.”

I’m doing my best to make sure all Floridians, including his son, can make a good living on the family farm for years to come.

In September, the U.S. House passed my bill to aid Florida orange growers in their battle against the citrus greening. The Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act was supported by every single member of Congress from Florida, Republican and Democrat alike, which underscores the fact that bipartisan cooperation can still happen in Washington.

There is one roadblock left before this bill can get signed into law: the U.S. Senate. I am hopeful that the Senate will be able to pass this legislation soon so it can get signed into law.

My bill would make it less costly for struggling farmers to replace trees afflicted with citrus greening by lowering the tax burden associated with planting their crop.

Our tax code provides a benefit to farmers that replant diseased trees, but only if they bear the full amount of cost. My bill would let struggling farmers use this deduction even if they bring in investors to raise capital for replanting costs.

Once it’s signed into law, the bill will go a long way toward protecting the livelihoods of the hard-working Floridians in our signature citrus industry.

Citrus farmers are being hit hard and my bill will help them recover. The story of American agriculture is one of resilience and hard work against tremendous odds. Let’s work together to get this bipartisan legislation over the finish line so we can continue that story.

Congressman Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, represents Florida’s 16th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, which includes Manatee County. In the November election, he won re-election and will soon serve his sixth term in the House. He is Florida’s only member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/article116674573.html#storylink=cpy

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Florida Citrus Mutual sells Lakeland Property

November 11th, 2016 by tamara

LAKELAND, FL (November 10, 2016) -Florida Citrus Mutual announced today the trade organization has sold its downtown Lakeland headquarters to Publix Super Markets Inc. for an undisclosed amount.

FCM has been at the site – located at the southeast corner of Orange Street and Massachusetts Avenue – for 68 years.

“Florida Citrus Mutual had a long run here and there have been a lot of important decisions made in this building that have shaped the direction of the Florida citrus industry, so this decision was not made lightly,” said Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of FCM. “Our Board of Directors believes now is the right time to sell. We couldn’t have a better buyer. Publix is the pinnacle of professionalism and we appreciate their diligence in making this happen.”

The deal encompasses the 21,000 square foot, two-story building and the city block bordered by Massachusetts and Orange as well as Lime Street and Iowa Avenue. The parcel overlooks Lake Morton and has garnered much interest over the years. He said Mutual’s staff and executive committee is now looking for a new headquarters somewhere in Polk County.

FCM once employed more than 75 people in the building known for its art deco design and unfinished wood paneling interior. But that number has dwindled with the shrinking citrus crop and now Mutual and a handful of tenants occupy it. The current tenants will vacate the building prior to August 31, 2017.

The high profile façade and neon Mutual sign at 411 E. Orange Street was a well-known landmark to Lakeland residents and the citrus industry before it was covered up two decades ago in favor of a more traditional look.

The Florida citrus industry creates a $10.8 billion annual economic impact, employing nearly 62,000 people, and covering about 500,000 acres. Founded in 1948, Florida Citrus Mutual is the state’s largest citrus grower organization. For more information, visit www.flcitrusmutual.com. Follow FCM on Twitter @FLCITRUSMUTUAL.

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U.S. House Gives Citrus Tax Incentive Overwhelming Bipartisan Support

September 21st, 2016 by tamara

LAKELAND, FL (September 21, 2016) – The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a measure Wednesday that provides growers with an incentive to plant more trees and bolster the ailing Florida citrus industry.

By a 400-20 vote, Republicans and Democrats approved the Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act which allows growers to immediately expense the cost of planting new citrus instead of the standard 14-year depreciation period under the current IRS rules.

The tweak to the IRS code is designed to increase slumping production. It would be available for 10 years. To view H.R. 3957 go to https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/3957. The House Ways and Means Committee passed it last week.

“Through this legislation small, medium and large growers will have the opportunity to seek capital from lenders and outside investors to reinvest in Florida citrus,” said Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. “We believe the tax incentive will help yield a positive return on an investment in citrus. We need to attract capital to rebound from HLB and this measure is an important tool to get us there.”

FCM estimates the Florida citrus industry needs to put more than 20 million trees in the ground over the next 10 years to support existing infrastructure and get production back to where it was before HLB.

Sparks thanked U.S. Rep Vern Buchanan (R-FL), the bill’s primary sponsor, as well as U.S. Reps. Tom Rooney (R-FL) and Dennis Ross (R-FL) and the entire Florida delegation.

“What a job by our friends in the House,” he said. “We look forward to working with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) to move the bill in the Senate.”

Florida growers are now battling HLB, a bacterial disease vectored by the Asian citrus psyllid. It attacks the vascular system of a tree and can kill it within two years. Citrus greening is endemic to Florida and has reduced production more than 50 percent over the past decade.

The Florida citrus industry creates a $10.7 billion annual economic impact, employing nearly 62,000 people, and covering about 500,000 acres. Founded in 1948, Florida Citrus Mutual is the state’s largest citrus grower organization. For more information, visit www.flcitrusmutual.com. Follow FCM on Twitter @FLCITRUSMUTUAL.

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FCM Applauds House Ways and Means Committee for Passing Citrus Bill

September 14th, 2016 by tamara

LAKELAND, FL (September 14, 2016) – Florida Citrus Mutual on Wednesday applauded the House Ways and Means Committee for passing a measure that would provide growers with an incentive to plant more trees and bolster the ailing Florida citrus industry.

Committee member U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) is the primary sponsor of the bill called The Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act which allows growers to immediately expense the cost of planting new citrus instead of the standard 14-year depreciation period under the current IRS rules. The tweak to the IRS code is designed to increase slumping production. It would be available for 10 years. To view H.R. 3957 go to https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/3957

“The strong committee vote is a clear message: we must do all we can to protect American jobs,” Buchanan said. “We are one step closer to protecting the livelihoods of the 62,000 hardworking Floridians who form the backbone of the Sunshine State’s iconic citrus industry.”

Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual added; “The approval by the Ways and Means Committee is a huge first step in getting the bill passed by both the House and the Senate. We offer a sincere thank you to Congressman Buchanan and Chairman Brady as well as the other sponsors for their support of this important bill. It is truly a bipartisan effort and reflects the fact that our elected officials understand citrus’ vital economic role.”

“By some estimates our industry needs to put more than 20 million trees in the ground over the next 10 years to support existing infrastructure and get our production back to where it was before HLB. This legislation will help spur the desperately needed plantings. It’s a game changer.”

The entire Florida delegation is co-sponsoring the bill.

In the Senate, original sponsor U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) was joined by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) earlier this year as a champion of the bill. The Senate is expected to consider the legislation later this year.

Florida growers are now battling citrus greening, or HLB, a bacterial disease vectored by the Asian citrus psyllid. It attacks the vascular system of a tree and can kill it within two years. Citrus greening is endemic to Florida and has reduced production more than 50 percent over the past decade.

The Florida citrus industry creates a $10.7 billion annual economic impact, employing nearly 62,000 people, and covering about 500,000 acres. Founded in 1948, Florida Citrus Mutual is the state’s largest citrus grower organization. For more information, visit www.flcitrusmutual.com. Follow FCM on Twitter @FLCITRUSMUTUAL.

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FDACS Citrus Grove Renovation/Re-establishment Cost Share Program

August 24th, 2016 by tamara

Industry Members and Friends:

As you know, a big part of Mutual’s mission over the past three years was to try and uncover, create and support grower incentive programs to get more trees in the ground and rebuild our industry. Through the hard work of Commissioner Adam Putnam and his staff I am pleased to announce FDACS’ Citrus Grove Renovation/Re-establishment Support Program. The $5.5 million program is designed to help growers re-establish citrus groves by providing 75 percent cost-share on eligible improvements in irrigation and nutrient management and 100 percent on engineering and design costs.

Growers are eligible for up to $250,000 on improvements to irrigation and nutrient management for replanting or re-establishing groves. The program is available now and FDACS is accepting applications. Please see the document below for details and a contact number.

Once again, thank you to Commissioner Putnam for his staunch support of the Florida citrus industry.

Regards,

Mike

FDACS Citrus Grove Renovation/Re – establishment Support Program

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USDA ORANGE JUICE PURCHASE PROGRAM ANNOUNCED

August 19th, 2016 by tamara

The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced plans to purchase Orange Juice for surplus removal. A solicitation will be issued in the near future. All offers must be submitted electronically through the Web-Based Supply Chain Management (WBSCM) website at http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=WBSCM. Offers submitted by any
means other than WBSCM will be considered non-responsive.

Offerors are urged to review all documents as they pertain to this program, including the AMS Master Solicitation for Commodity Procurements dated April 2015; Amendment 1 to the Master Solicitation dated June 2015; Amendment 2 to the Master Solicitation dated May 2016; the applicable Commodity Specification(s) identified in the subsequent solicitation(s); and the Qualification Requirements for Prospective Vendors dated October 2014. These documents are available on the AMS Commodity Procurement website at http://www.ams.usda.gov/selling-food
.
Offerors must read all terms of the applicable Solicitation(s) when it is issued. To receive electronic (email) notification of the issuance of these solicitations, see the “Stay up to date on USDA Food Purchases (link)” available on the AMS Commodity Procurement website.

Inquiries may be made by telephoning (202) 720-4517 or addressing the Contracting Officer, USDA/AMS Commodity Procurement Staff, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, STOP 0239, Washington, DC 20250-0256. An electronic version of this Purchase Announcement can be found at the Commodity Procurement Website: http://www.ams.usda.gov/selling-food.

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Growers’ Help Needed for CRDF PFD survey

August 16th, 2016 by tamara

The CRDF has developed a survey to gather grower data to assess PFD treatments that took place this spring. Grove data will be accompanied by button and fruit count on 20 trees/block. Growers are needed to participate. The CRDF is looking for growers with some record of seasonal and/or off season bloom in their grove as well as rainfall data. If the block does not have a weather station, at least flowering monitoring data would be needed. All of the individual grove data would be kept confidential and the analyzed data will be available as a document and will be presented at meetings.

Brandon Page and his field crew (UF-IFAS and CRDF) would be in each block for around an hour to count buttons and fruit, and to make some measurements on the 20 trees. This would take place one time.

If you would like to help and participate in this project, please contact Dr. Stephanie Slinski at sslinski@citrusrdf.org or call 863.956.8678.

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International Citrus Congress – 2016

August 12th, 2016 by tamara

The International Citrus Congress(ICC 2016) will be held in Brazil from September 18 to 23. The city of Foz do Iguaçu was chosen for its natural beauty and the Triple Border area of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. The ICC is themed “Sustainable Citrus: the role of applied knowledge”, and it is expected to receive 1,200 participants from over 15 countries. The event will bring together the most respected experts in the citrus area, in order to debate the present and future of citrus production in the world.

The Congress will be a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity for scientists, students and citrus producers to interact, through lectures, workshops, scientific sessions and poster sessions. There will be tours to all over the country that will also allow in loco experience, certainly providing a wider picture of citrus production in Brazil.

The International Citrus Congress is held for 43 in different countries, every 4 years. It is the second time it is held in Brazil, the first time was in 1984, in the city of São Paulo. The last congresses were held in the USA (2000), Morocco (20004), China (2008) and Spain (2012).

The ICC 2016 is an event promoted by the International Society of Citriculture (ISC), being organized in Brazil by the two of the most important research institutions in agriculture, science and technology: the Agronomic Institute (IAC), from its Citriculture Center Sylvio Moreira and by the Agronomic Institute of Paraná (IAPAR).

The host city

The city of Foz do Iguaçu is in the west border of Paraná State, and it is the second most visited tourist destination in Brazil, after Rio de Janeiro. The city is known for its cultural diversity, and has great hotels, an international airport and several tourist attractions, such as Iguazu Falls, recently elected as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, in Iguazu National Park, where tourists can visit The Bird Park, Itaipu Power Plant, among others. The ICC 2016 will be held in Mabu Thermas & Resort, a surprising resort with thermal waters, spa and haute cuisine, located 10 km away from the Falls.
Is is also close to historic places, like the Jesuit Missions, the ruins of the missions built by Jesuit priests in Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.

Speakers

Since the announcement of Foz do Iguaçu as the host city eight years ago, the local organizers have made efforts to bring the most important experts in the citrus area to this event. Eduardo Fermino, the co-chair for the congress and an IAPAR researcher, explains the selection process:

“While discussing the very details of the event, my team and I started to think about the areas that could be selected from all the diverse fields of world citrus production and research. If on the one hand obvious themes were mentioned, on the other hand immediate connections were made, between Gmitter and genetics, Quaggio and nutrition, for example. We believe we will have the world experts with us, for each theme presented”

The speakers in this event are the top representatives in research, politics and management and will discuss the latest results of research and innovation in different areas of citricuture.

­Alexandra Heinermann
, from SGF, Germany, will be lecturing about the Worlwide Market for Citrus Juices. She is the general Manager of the Quality Juice Foundation and the SGF Service Plus GmBh, a service company for the global fruit juice industry.

­Ali Fares from Prairie View A&M University, in the USA, will share his knowledge on Current Status and Upcoming Challenges for Citrus Water Management in an Every Changing Environment: A Global Overview. He is currently leading the research program of the College of Agriculture and Human Sciences (CAHS) at Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU), and a Professor of Water Security.

­Bryce W. Falk, from the University of California, in the USA, will be lecturing about RNAi-based Strategies Against Insect Vectors of Plant Pathogens. He has been at UC Davis since 1985 and was advanced to Distinguished Professor in 2013. He teaches classes in Plant Pathology, Plant Virology and General Virology. His research deals with plant viruses, insect vectors of plant pathogens and biotechnological applications for plant disease control.

­Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz
, from FAPESP, Reasearch Foundation, in Brazil. He has been a professor at the Unicamp Physics Institute since 1982. Presently is a professor at the Quantum Electronics Department.

­Fred Gmitter, from University of Florida, in the USA, whose lecture will be themed: Citrus Genomics: The Path from the Past to the Superhighway of Future Genetic Improvement. He is a University of Florida (UF) Research Foundation Professor who works in citrus genetics, genomics and breeding at the UF Citrus Research and Education Center, in Lake Alfred, Florida, USA. He was among the first citrus scientists in the world to develop molecular marker-based linkage maps and to identify markers to be used in selection for disease resistance

­Jose Antonio Quaggio, from Agronomic Institute (IAC), in Brazil, will offer his view on Advances on Citrus Nutrition: 30-year of Research in Tropical Conditions. He is a PhD in Soils and Plant Nutrition, and has been at the Agronomic Institute (IAC) since 1978, working with chemistry and fertility of soils and mineral nutrition of plants. Among his achievements, is the development of the IAC Soil Analysis System, based on the ion extraction by resins, in 1983, which is used by more than 150 laboratories in Brazil and others from Latin American countries.
­
­José R. P. Parra
, from ESALQ / USP, in Brazil, will share his knowledge on Sustainable Pest Control for Citrus Production in Brazil. He was elected Full Member of the Brazilian Academy of Science in 2000 and Full Member of the Academy of Sciences for Developing World (TWAS) in 2002. His fields of expertise are Insect Biology, Nutrition and Biological Control with emphasis on parasitic Hymenoptera. He has over 300 publications and several books in Entomology, Biological Control and Biology.
­
­Leandro Peña
from Fundecitrus in Brazil and IBMCP in Spain, will give his lecture on Transgenic strategies to control citrus Huanglongbing. He holds a PhD in Biological Sciences from the Autonomous University of Madrid. Currently he has been working at Fundecitrus (Araraquara, Sao Paulo, Brazil) and at Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Institute (IBMCP) of the CSIC and the Polytechnic University (UPV) in Valencia.

General Information

The Executive Organizing Committee is composed by members of the institutions carrying on the event:

Chair: Dirceu Mattos Jr. (IAC)
Co­chair: Eduardo Fermino Carlos (IAPAR) Treasurer: José Pereira da Silva (IAPAR)

International Citrus Congress ­ ICC 2016 September 18 a 23
Mabu Thermas & Resort Foz do Iguaçu ­ Brazil

website: www.icc2016.com

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FCM Applauds Rubio for Co-Sponsoring Citrus Bill

July 22nd, 2016 by tamara

LAKELAND, FL (July 22, 2016) – Florida Citrus Mutual on Friday applauded U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) for becoming a co-sponsor of a measure that would provide growers with an incentive to plant more trees and bolster the troubled Florida citrus industry.

Rubio joined original sponsor U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) in championing The Emergency Citrus Disease Response Actwhich allows growers to immediately expense the cost of planting new citrus instead of the standard 14 year depreciation period under the current IRS rules. The tweak to the IRS code is designed to increase slumping production. It would be available for 10 years.

Rubio, along with Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, toured a grove outside of Auburndale, FL Thursday to get an update on the state of the industry. He said he will push lard for the IRS legislation.

Michael W. Sparks, Executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, thanked Rubio and other members of the Florida Congressional delegation for their steadfast support of the industry.

“By some estimates our industry needs to put more than 20 million trees in the ground over the next 10 years to support existing infrastructure and get our production back to where it was before HLB,” said. “We offer a sincere thank you to Senator Rubio, Senator Nelson and Rep. Vern Buchanan as well as other members of the Florida Congressional delegation for their support of this important bill. It is truly a bipartisan effort and reflects the fact that Florida’s elected officials understand the citrus’ vital economic role.”

Florida growers are now battling citrus greening, or HLB, a bacterial disease vectored by the Asian citrus psyllid. It attacks the vascular system of a tree and can kill it within two years. Citrus greening is endemic to Florida and has reduced production more than 50 percent over the past decade.
In the House, Rep. Vern Buchanan is the primary sponsor of the bill. Co-sponsors from Florida include Reps. Bilirakis, Brown, Castor, Clawson, Crenshaw, Curbelo, DeSantis, Deutch, Diaz-Balart, Frankel, Graham, Grayson, Hastings, Jolly, Mica, Miller, Murphy, Posey, Rooney, Ros-Lehtinen, Ross, Wasserman-Schultz, Wilson, Webster and Yoho. Rep. Olson from Texas and Reps. Gosar, Schweikert and Franks from Arizona are also co-sponsors of the bill.

The Florida citrus industry creates a $10.7 billion annual economic impact, employing nearly 62,000 people, and covering about 500,000 acres. Founded in 1948, Florida Citrus Mutual is the state’s largest citrus grower organization. For more information, visit www.flcitrusmutual.com. Follow FCM on Twitter @FLCITRUSMUTUAL

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Governor Signs Packinghouse Tax Exemption

April 14th, 2016 by tamara

Dear Friends of the Florida Citrus Industry,

Good news! Governor Scott on Wednesday signed the measure allowing a sales tax exemption for fresh fruit and vegetable packinghouses on equipment purchased, repairs to existing equipment and labor.

We have pursued this legislation for several sessions so I am happy to report we finally got it done! Thanks to Governor Scott, Speaker of the House Steve Crisafulli, Representative Matt Gaetz and all of our champions in the House and the Senate. The exemption should provide a nice financial shot in the arm to our fresh industry. It takes effect on July 1, 2016.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact Mutual.

Regards,

Mike Sparks

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