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October 4, 2017, Vancouver, BC – As dairy products, Bombardier aircraft and softwood lumber continue to bedevil trade relations between Canada and the U.S., negotiators will have to add wine to their list of issues to resolve.

The U.S. has filed a second complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over what it perceives as B.C.’s unfair rules regarding wine sales in the province’s grocery stores, according to a release from the WTO. READ MORE
September 20, 2017, Old Chelsea, QC – The Government of Canada is committed to working with the agricultural industry in developing new risk management assessments and tools that help farmers manage risk.

The federal government recently announced a $461,816 investment for the Canadian Organic Growers. This funding will be used to conduct a study of the risks involved in transitioning from conventional production to organic production.

This first-of-a-kind study will reach out to organic producers across the country, as well as others in the sector. The data collected will be used to identify techniques that farmers can use to help reduce risk and manage their shift to organic production.

“More than ever, Canadians are looking to purchase organic products grown and made in Canada; however supply is not keeping pace at home or abroad,” said Rochelle Eisen, president of Canadian Organic Growers. “There is a growing environmental and economic case for transitioning to organic agriculture in Canada and by enhancing our knowledge on the subject, we can develop effective tools, programs, and policies that can better support a farmer’s journey to sustainable, organic production.”
September 15, 2017, Ottawa, Ont – The Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI) and the Canada Institute of the Wilson Center are pleased to co-publish a short piece on approaches to food safety cooperation in Canada and the United States.

With NAFTA renegotiation talks in full swing, it is a critical time for a conversation on protecting and improving our shared food supply chain. As think tanks and think networks, CAPI and the Wilson Center know the importance of good debate and a robust marketplace for ideas. This short piece, written by Rory McAlpine and Mike Robach, encourages just such debate.

"The contents of the piece represent an opportunity for our two organizations to present to our respective stakeholders on the frontlines of Canada-US economic policy some new thinking on important food safety issues", said Don Buckingham, president and CEO of CAPI. "Food safety is not just about consumer protection, it's about enhancing the competitiveness of the Canada-U.S. agri-food supply chain around the world. A well-functioning food safety regime helps to increase global demand for safe and wholesome North American food products."

"During a period of trade upheaval and fractured supply chains, it is particularly important to bring practical suggestions to the table that will build trade, increase competitiveness and safeguard the protection of consumers," added Laura Dawson, director of the Canada Institute of the Wilson Center.

The short piece is available here.
September 12, 2017, Ottawa, Ont – Representatives from four different government departments and departmental organizations recently made the trip to Norfolk County, known as “Ontario’s garden”, to observe the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) in action.

Officials from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC); Service Canada; Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC); and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) participated in a two-day tour, which stopped at 12 farms and included greenhouses and packing facilities. Government officials picked the farms they wanted to visit, so as to make sure they were seeing typical SAWP environments, and not just ones hand-picked by the tour organizers. READ MORE
August 4, 2017, Boise, ID – Health Canada and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) have completed the food, feed, and environmental safety assessments of the J.R. Simplot Company’s second generation of Innate potatoes.

The authorizations enable the potatoes to be imported, planted, and sold in Canada, complementing the three varieties of Innate first generation potatoes that received regulatory approval last year.

Health Canada conducted a comprehensive safety assessment and approved the use of Innate second generation potatoes for food. In addition, CFIA determined that these potatoes are “as safe and nutritious as traditional potatoes” for use as livestock feed, and that the potatoes do not present increased risk to the environment when compared to currently cultivated potato varieties in Canada.

The second generation of Innate potatoes contains four beneficial traits of relevance to potato growers, processors and consumers:
  • Protection against the late blight pathogen
  • Reduced bruising and black spot
  • Reduced asparagine, which contributes to reduced acrylamide in cooked potatoes
  • Lower reducing sugars, which further contributes to reduced acrylamide while enhancing cold storage capability
These traits were achieved using genes from wild and cultivated potatoes to adapt the standard Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet, and Atlantic potato varieties.

Innate late blight protection trait can convey up to a 50 per cent reduction in annual fungicide applications typically used to control late blight disease. This disease was a contributing cause of the Irish Potato Famine in the mid-19th century and remains a major constraint for production and storage. Further, research shows that Innate second generation potatoes help reduce waste associated with bruise, blight, and storage losses by reducing waste at multiple stages of the value chain, including in-field, during storage and processing, and in food service. That research suggests that these traits will translate to less land, water, and pesticide applications to produce these potatoes.

Lower asparagine and reducing sugars mean that accumulation levels of acrylamide can be reduced by up to 90 per cent more when these potatoes are cooked at high temperatures. In addition, lower reducing sugars enable cold storage at 3.3 Celsius for more than six months without significant degradation in quality.

According to academic estimates, if all fresh potatoes in Canada had Innate Generation 2 traits, potato waste (in-field, during storage, packing, retail and foodservice for fresh potatoes) could be reduced by 93 million kilograms. In addition, CO2 emissions could be reduced by 14 million kilograms, water usage reduced by 13 billion liters, and a total of 154,000 fewer pesticide hectare-applications would be needed.

“This is a big technology advancement for the Canadian potato industry,” said Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada. “As long as proper stewardship guidelines are followed, Innate biotechnology provides growers a promising option to significantly reduce waste, chemicals, and pesticides.”

“We’re excited to offer the latest generation of Innate potatoes to the Canadian marketplace,” said Susan Collinge, Ph.D., vice president of Simplot Plant Sciences, a division of the J.R. Simplot Company. “Innate second generation potatoes offer important benefits while staying within the potato genome to create a quality crop.”
August 9, 2017, Charlottetown, PEI – Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay recently opened the first regional engagement in Charlottetown, PEI, as part of the ongoing consultations regarding the development A Food Policy for Canada.

“Today’s session marks the continuation of the important, in-depth conversation we are having about A Food Policy for Canada,” he said. “The decisions we make as a government, and as individuals, about food have a major impact on not only our health and well-being, but on our environment, our communities, and our economy. Conversations like the one we are having today are vital to ensuring the food choices we make are the right ones, while ensuring we meet the growing world demand for high quality foods produced by our farmers and ranchers.”

The session, which includes stakeholders, Indigenous representatives, experts, and key policy makers, is the first in a series being held across the country over the next two months.

Public consultations on A Food Policy for Canada were launched on May 29, 2017, via an online survey. Due to a strong response from across the country, the comment period for the online survey was recently extended to August 31, 2017. A Food Policy Summit also took place in June that brought together more than 250 participants with diverse expertise and experience to discuss a broad range of food-related issues, related to:
  • increasing access to affordable food;
  • improving health and food safety;
  • conserving our soil, water, and air; and
  • growing more high-quality food.
August 8, 2017, Harrington, PEI – The Government of Canada recently to announce a $300,500 investment for the Prince Edward Island Federation of Agriculture (PEIFA) to undertake a risk assessment of agriculture on the island.

The assessment will include three focus groups from across PEI who will discuss and rank various risks associated with agricultural production for a range of commodities.

"We are proud to partner with the PEIFA to help Island farmers better understand and mitigate the risks they face on their operations,” said Lawrence MacAuley, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “We’re helping farmers access the information and tools they need to continue to grow and strengthen our economy."

"The [PEIFA] is appreciative of the government’s commitment to working with us on this important initiative,” said David Mol, president of the PEI Federation of Agriculture. “This work will assist the farming community on PEI to proactively get ahead of our collective risks and built toward a stronger future for our industry."
August 4, 2017, Ottawa, Ont – The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) recently held an AgriWorkforce Roundtable to discuss challenges and possible solutions to address the critical agricultural labour shortage in Canada.

Participants included primary producers, processors, retailers, policy makers and academics – all putting their heads together to come up with new solutions to what is becoming a persistent problem; how do you attract and retain farm workers?

Marc Smith, retired assistant director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY, and senior Extension associate, opened the discussion with an international perspective on shared agricultural labour challenges among the United States and Canada.

Smith started off by identifying several trends in the U.S. agricultural labour climate:
  • Regardless of government policy, people seeking employment in agriculture will be scarce.
  • Economic and other motivations to develop and adopt labour-saving technologies are growing.
  • Political and economic pressures will force minimal wages higher in many states.
  • Perception of agriculture as an unattractive field for careers is a perennial challenge.
The consequences of these U.S. agricultural labour trends has resulted in a 20 per cent decline in available agricultural workers between 2002-14; an annual loss of $3.1B [US] to fruit and vegetable production due to labour shortages; and a declining U.S.-born population willing to work on farms.

In Canada, the gap between labour demand and the domestic workforce in agriculture has doubled from 30,000 to 59,000 in the past 10 years and projections indicate that by 2025, the Canadian agri-workforce could be short workers for 114,000 jobs. This was a key finding of Labour Market Information (LMI) research by CAHRC entitled Agriculture 2025: How the Sector’s Labour Challenges Will Shape its Future. The LMI research also revealed that Canadian primary agriculture had the highest industry job vacancy rate at seven per cent – higher than any other industry in Canada. This resulted in $1.5-billion in lost sales.

Poor worker compensation is often cited as the primary reason for low interest in working on farms. However, Smith notes that agricultural wages in the U.S. have gone up faster than any other sector in the past 10 years with the median wage being $13.23/hr ($17.76 CDN) as of April 2017. In Canada, farm hourly rates averaged $17.50/hr in 2016.

Smith advocates that wages alone are not the issue but rather what is needed is a coordinated effort to improve labour policy, on-farm workforce needs, and farm practices.

Smith suggests that farmers need to develop realistic policies that attract and retain workers. Investment in leadership and management capacity within the agricultural industry is also needed to encourage innovation, research and development for long-term solutions to the already critical agricultural workforce.

It is not enough to simply pay required wages and comply with regulations. Employee compensation should also include how workers are treated and have their needs accommodated such as providing housing, access to the internet, transportation, communications in their own language, offering English as a second language training, job training, flexible hours, and creating a sense of community. It is important to make workers feel welcomed, valued and confident.

Finally, modifying farm practices to reduce the need for labour is another way to reduce on-farm workforce pressures. This may include adopting new technology that negates the need for human workers, changing crop mixes to less labour intensive commodities, or moving production operations to streamline efficiency.

To help attract and retain a motivated workforce, CAHRC has developed several tools to help farm managers including: AgriSkills – customizable and commodity specific on-farm training programs; Agri HR Toolkit – an online resource guide and templates to address the HR needs of any business; and Agri Pathways – promoting careers in agriculture. For more information on these and other CAHRC offerings visit www.cahrc-ccrha.ca.

In the meantime, Smith says producers should champion farmers that are doing a great job with their workers and get the word out that agriculture is a rewarding and fulfilling career with a strong future.
July 31, 2017, Vancouver, B.C. - The agri-business sector is a key driver of growth in the Canadian economy and a source of good, well-paying jobs for the middle class. The Government of Canada is committed to helping British Columbia's agri-food sector grow their businesses, expand and access new markets at home and abroad as we target reaching $75B in exports of agri-food products by 2025.

Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, Parliamentary Secretary for International Trade and Member of Parliament for West Vancouver — Sunshine Coast —Sea to Sky Country, on behalf of Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay, announced over $233,000 to help B.C.'s agri-food sector increase sales in markets in the United States, Europe, and Asia.

The funding provided will help eleven small-and medium-sized agri-food businesses expand existing markets and build new global customers, develop and maintain branding tools, and participate in trade shows and missions.

The following organizations received federal funding:

Amra Services Ltd.
Big Mountain Foods
HOOH Organic Hop Company Ltd
Naturally Homegrown Foods Ltd
Nonna Pia's Gourmet Sauces Ltd
Nutra Ex Food Inc.
Organika Health Products Inc.
Pacific Fermentation Ind. Inc.
Tropical Link Canada Ltd.
Tugwell Creek Honey Farm and Meadery Inc.
Unsworth Vineyards Ltd.

"Support for projects such as these emphasizes our commitment to help B.C.'s agriculture and agri-food sector expand export markets and demand for Canadian products. Through this investment, we are creating opportunities for B.C.'s agri-food sector to grow, diversify and prosper," said Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
July 28, 2017, Ottawa, Ont. - To support economic opportunities and to protect human health and the environment, Canada's federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) ministers of agriculture endorsed the Plant and Animal Health Strategy for Canada at their annual meeting. The strategy is a shared vision between partners across governments, industry, academia and others, and charts a path forward for collectively addressing evolving risks to plant and animal health.

Agriculture is an important driver in today's economy and has been identified as one of Canada's key growth sectors. Implementation of the Plant and Animal Health Strategy for Canada is essential to economic growth, and for the health of all of our citizens and the environment.

Effective action depends on the combined and co-ordinated work of numerous partners. By taking a collaborative approach, the partners will be even more successful at protecting plant and animal resources from new and emerging risks. The action-oriented strategy outlines how all parties will work together to protect these resources, unleashing the potential for growth in Canada's agriculture sector.

"Agriculture is a key growth sector for Canada's economy. By working in collaboration with partners we have been able to create a strategy that will improve how we work together to advance the protection of plant and animal health, reduce risk to Canadians and improve our economic opportunities," said the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
July 25, 2017 – Ottawa, Ont. - A Food Policy for Canada will set a long-term vision for the health, environmental, social, and economic goals related to food, while identifying actions we can take in the short-term.

We have reached out to Canadians to help shape the policy because we know that by working together, we can build a food policy that is a shared vision to address food-related opportunities and challenges in Canada.

A strong response from across the country has prompted Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister, Lawrence MacAulay, to encourage even more citizens to have their say.

With over 22,000 Canadians having completed the online survey launched on May 29, the comment period has been extended to August 31, 2017, to allow even more Canadians to share their views on A Food Policy for Canada.

The online survey is one of a number of consultation activities planned to engage with Canadians on this issue.

The Government of Canada is also encouraging community leaders and organizations to continue having food policy discussions in their own regions across the country. A toolkit is now available online that can help organizers host discussions and gather feedback on what matters most when it comes to food policy.

Following a successful food policy summit held in Ottawa in June, the Government of Canada will be holding regional engagement sessions across Canada throughout August and September. Stakeholders, Indigenous groups, experts, and key policy makers will be invited to attend these sessions and share their views on the development of A Food Policy for Canada.

A Food Policy for Canada, which will be the first-of-its-kind for Canada, will help address food issues and pursue opportunities in areas related to:

· increasing access to affordable food;
· improving health and food safety;
· conserving our soil, water, and air; and
· growing more high-quality food.
July 24, 2017 - St. John's - The Government of Canada is committed to working with agricultural industry partners and the private sector to develop new risk management tools that help farmers to be resilient and grow their businesses.

Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lawrence MacAulay, announced a $365,291 investment for the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture (NLFA) to develop a comprehensive consultation process to identify all the risks associated with farming in the province, potentially including production, financial, labour, market, transportation and climate change risks.

Once completed, the risk assessment will form the basis for future programs and initiatives that will improve the resilience and growth of the Newfoundland and Labrador agriculture sector.
July 21, 2017, St. John's, NL - The agriculture and agri-food sector is a key growth industry in Canada, contributing over $100 billion annually to the economy and employing 2.3 million Canadians.

Ministers of Agriculture reached agreement today on the key elements of a new federal, provincial, territorial (FPT) agricultural policy framework during the Annual Meeting of Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Agriculture held in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, from July 19-21.

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a five-year, $3 billion investment, will come into effect on April 1, 2018. It will strengthen the agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector, ensuring continued innovation, growth and prosperity. In addition, producers will continue to have access to a robust suite of Business Risk Management (BRM) programs.

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership will focus on six priority areas:
  • Science, Research, and Innovation – Helping industry adopt practices to improve resiliency and productivity through research and innovation in key areas.
  • Markets and Trade – Opening new markets and helping farmers and food processors improve their competitiveness through skills development, improved export capacity, underpinned by a strong and efficient regulatory system.
  • Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change – Building sector capacity to mitigate agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, protect the environment and adapt to climate change by enhancing sustainable growth, while increasing production.
  • Value-added Agriculture and Agri-food Processing – Supporting the continued growth of the value-added agriculture and agri-food processing sector.
  • Public Trust – Building a firm foundation for public trust in the sector through improved assurance systems in food safety and plant and animal health, stronger traceability and effective regulations.
  • Risk Management – Enabling proactive and effective risk management, mitigation and adaptation to facilitate a resilient sector by working to ensure programs are comprehensive, responsive and accessible.
  • Under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, BRM programs will continue to help producers manage significant risks that threaten the viability of their farm and are beyond their capacity to manage. Governments responded to industry concerns regarding eligible coverage under AgriStability, ensuring a more equitable level of support for all producers. Highlights of upcoming BRM changes are available at http://www.agr.gc.ca/eng/?id=1500475317828.
Governments further committed to engaging in a review that explores options to improve BRM programming. The review will recognize the important role played by all programs (AgriStability, AgriInvest, AgriInsurance) in the risk management plans of producers given the diversity of the sector. The review will also directly involve producers and have an early focus on market risk, including as it relates to AgriStability addressing concerns regarding timeliness, simplicity and predictability. Ministers will be presented with options in July 2018 for consideration based on early findings of the review.

The agreement reached by ministers today sets the stage for FPT governments to conclude bilateral agreements by April 1, 2018. It is a priority for ministers to implement a seamless transition from the current policy framework to the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

Extensive consultations with industry and Canadians informed the development of the new agreement, which builds on the success of previous FPT agricultural frameworks. Governments will continue to work closely with the sector as Canadian Agricultural Partnership programs are developed and implemented, to reflect the diverse needs across Canada, including the North.

This year's Annual Meeting of Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Agriculture focused on important initiatives touching the agriculture and agri-food sector including the status of trade negotiations and market access initiatives in key export markets.

To this effect, FPT Ministers reiterated their support for supply management. Ministers agreed to the approach for optimizing the Pan-Canadian Regulatory Framework and endorsed the Plant and Animal Health Strategy for Canada. Indigenous agriculture in Canada and the development of a Food Policy for Canada were also addressed. A summary of items discussed at the meeting is available at http://www.agr.gc.ca/eng/?id=1500475666246. The next annual FPT Ministers' meeting will be held in Vancouver, British Columbia, in July 2018.
June 29, 2017, P.E.I. - Mary Robinson of Prince Edward Island, has been acclaimed the new Chair of the Canadian Agriculture Human Resource Council (CAHRC), replacing Mark Wales of Ontario. Rounding off the Board's Executive are Cyr Couturier (NL) as Vice Chair, Harold Deenen (ON) as Treasurer; and Connie Keller (SK) and Paul Glenn (ON) - all for two year terms.

Robinson's family has been farming in Augustine Cove, PEI since 1810. Along with her two cousins, Lori and Andrew, she actively manages Eric C. Robinson Inc. and its subsidiaries.

The operation, a sixth generation farm and third generation family agri-business, was recognized in 2014 as one of PEI's Heritage Farms. Eric C. Robinson Inc. currently grows potatoes, grain, soybeans and hay. Other facets of the family business include grading and packing fresh potatoes, a produce dealership, custom application and crop input businesses. Mary is also a Certified Crop Advisor and actively manages Island Lime Inc.

In addition to Robinson's new position at CAHRC, she is the past president of the PEI Federation of Agriculture, has been newly named to the Canadian Federation of Agriculture's Board and sits on the CFA's Governance and Carbon Tax committees. She is a member of the National Program Advisory Council for Agriculture, is the lead for CFA's work on the Food Policy for Canada and has just accepted a position on the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity Board.

"The path is well laid out for CAHRC. We need to continue to bring valuable human resource assistance to the national table, pushing traditional thinkers to be creative and helping facilitate a better understanding of what career opportunities agriculture offers," says Robinson. "CAHRC will continue to have a multi-angled approach to this; capturing the attention of employers, educators, potential workers and the general public. As we hear people talk about "public trust", "food policy" and "sustainability", Ag HR has a strong role to play in these arenas. The messaging we send out will be taken in by the general public as part of the journey to building trust and understanding between agriculture and non-agriculture communities."

While Robinson is the fourth Chair in CAHRC's 10 year history, she is the first woman, which reflects a growing upward long-term trend of women in agriculture.

Statistics Canada indicated that in 2016, women accounted for 29 per cent of farm operators national wide. However, CAHRC research indicates that the proportion of women on boards is not representative of the proportion of women in the industry. Of 65 national and provincial agricultural associations reviewed by CAHRC research, only eight had women as the Board Chair or President, and another eight had women in the 'second in command' role of Vice-President or Vice-Chair. Representation of women on board executive committees was slightly better with 18 of the 65 organizations having at least one woman on their board.

One of the projects that CAHRC manages is Supporting the Advancement of Women in Agriculture (SAWA), for which CAHRC has developed a tool for associations entitled, Is Your Board Representative: A Best Practices Guide to Ensuring Women are Included, to work through processes to improve diversity.

“Our aim is to help improve diversity within the industry and increase the number of women on agricultural association boards and in leadership positions. Diversity and inclusion are central to the future success of the industry,” explains Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, Executive Director of CAHRC. “To accomplish this, we have developed a guide that provides a step-by-step process that industry associations can follow to assess their current situation and identify new ways to encourage the full participation of women in leadership roles. The industry will be at its best when all perspectives are included.”

As Robinson heads into a new decade for CAHRC she summarizes, "In these next 10 years, CAHRC will fill an even more integral position in helping Canada do an effective job of assisting our agricultural employers satisfy its human resource needs; helping outfit those businesses with the skilled people needed to maximize agricultural sustainability and economic success. Canada is aiming to capitalize on the Barton Report, develop a Food Policy for Canada and step up to the responsibility of being one of only a handful nations able to export food, helping feed the world. Canadians have a moral obligation to get organized and be prepared to make the best use of our resources - land, soil, air, water and people. Canada needs CAHRC to continue to be the champion of Ag HR and best prepare our people for the job."
June 23, 2017, Ottawa, Ont. - The decisions we make as individuals and as a country about food have a direct impact on our health, environment, economy, and communities.

Today, over 250 participants, with diverse expertise on food issues, are wrapping up a unique two-day Summit in Ottawa, marking an important step in the development of A Food Policy for Canada.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister, Lawrence MacAulay, along with Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Yvonne Jones, and Adam Vaughan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development (Housing and Urban Affairs), spoke to participants this morning, on the second day of the Summit.

The Minister and Parliamentary Secretaries highlighted the importance of hearing from Canadians, including experts and key stakeholders, in developing a food policy.

A Food Policy for Canada will be the first-of-its-kind for the Government of Canada and will cover the entire food system, from farm-to-fork.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Jean-Claude Poissant, and on behalf of Minister of Health, Greg Fergus, Member of Parliament for Hull-Aylmer, were on hand on the first day of the Summit to welcome participants from across the country.

Participants at the Summit included representatives from community organizations, academics, Indigenous groups, industry, stakeholders, and officials from all orders of government, who added their voices and contributed to discussions on a broad range of food-related challenges and opportunities in areas related to:

• increasing access to affordable food;

• improving health and food safety;

• conserving our soil, water, and air; and

• growing more high-quality food.

The Government of Canada wants to hear from Canadians about what is important to them when it comes to food opportunities and challenges.

Online consultations were recently launched at www.canada.ca/food-policy and remain open until July 27, 2017. Engagement on the development of the policy will continue throughout the summer and fall.
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