The Ocean Shipping Act Reform Act Signing Is A Big Win For American Workers, Farms, and Supply Chain

By Almond Alliance of California

Aubrey Bettencourt, President/CEO of the Almond Alliance of California, will be attending the signing of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act on Thursday, June 16, 2022.

“After a year and a half of supply chain problems, a massive trade imbalance, challenges at ports this bipartisan and bicameral legislation will take key steps toward easing current supply chain challenges by expanding the authority of the Federal Maritime Commission to promote U.S. exports through a maritime system that is transparent, efficient, and fair,” said Aubrey Bettencourt. “The Ocean Shipping Reform Act will bring American Grown goods to market, preserve America’s reputation as a trade partner, and show that we can come together to meet challenges.”

After two years of effort by agriculture exporters, retailers, and others, Congress approved S.3580, the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022, sending it to the President for his signature.

Specifically, this legislation:

• Expands safeguards to combat retaliation and deter unfair business practices;
• Clarifies prohibited carrier practices on detention and demurrage charges and vessel space accommodation;
• Establishes a shipping exchange registry through the FMC;
• Expands penalty authority to include a refund of charges; and
• Increases efficiency of the detention and demurrage complaint process.

Bettencourt continued, “The Ocean Shipping Reform Act is a big win for American workers, farms, businesses, and supply chain, providing the tools to modernize our policies and practices to support American exports and our reputation as a worldwide trade partner. Thank you to the California delegation and President Biden for your continued leadership.” To schedule an interview with Aubrey Bettencourt during her visit to Washington, D.C. for the bill signing, please contact Hector Barajas at hector@amplify360inc.com or Mike Vallante at mike@amplify360inc.com.

2022-06-16T11:15:50-07:00June 16th, 2022|

Famed UC Davis Apiculturist Eric Mussen Passes

Honey Bee Authority Dr. Eric Mussen Passes

Celebrated honey bee authority Dr. Eric Carnes Mussen, an internationally known 38-year California Cooperative Extension apiculturist and an invaluable member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty, died Friday, June 3 from liver cancer. He was 78.

Dr. Mussen, a resident of Davis, was admitted to a local hospital on May 25. He was diagnosed with liver cancer/failure on May 31 and returned to the family home June 1 for hospice care. He passed away the evening of June 3.

“Eric was a giant in the field of apiculture,” said Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “The impact of his work stretched far beyond California.”

Dr. Mussen, known to all as “Eric,” joined the UC Davis entomology department in 1976. Although he retired in 2014, he continued his many activities until a few weeks prior to his death. For nearly four decades, he drew praise as “the honey bee guru,” “the pulse of the bee industry” and as “the go-to person” when consumers, scientists, researchers, students, and the news media sought answers about honey bees.

“Eric’s passing is a huge loss,” said longtime colleague Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and a UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology. “He was always the go-to person for all things honey bee. He worked happily with hobbyists, commercial beekeepers and anyone just generally interested.”

Colleagues described Mussen as the “premier authority on bees and pollination in California, and one of the top beekeeping authorities nationwide,” “a treasure to the beekeeping industry,” and “a walking encyclopedia when it comes to honey bees.”

Norman Gary, a noted UC Davis emeritus professor of entomology who served as a faculty member from 1962 to 1994, described Eric as “by far, the best Extension apiculturist in this country.”

“Eric’s career was so productive and exciting that a book would be required to do justice for his many contributions to his profession as extension entomologist specializing in apiculture, better known as beekeeping,” Gary said. “His mission basically was facilitating productive and reciprocal communication between beekeeping researchers at UC Davis, commercial beekeeping as it affects California’s vast needs for the pollination of agricultural crops, providing helpful information to hobby beekeepers, and educating the general public concerning honey bees. His great professional successes in all areas have been recognized around the world. He has received numerous awards, especially from the beekeeping industry. He was by far the best Extension apiculturist in this country!”

“In addition to professional duties, he enthusiastically tackled other projects for entomology faculty,” Gary said. “For example, he critically reviewed most of my publications, including scientific papers, books, and bulletins. He worked diligently to help create the Western Apicultural Society and later served as president. (Mussen served six terms as president, the last term in 2017.) I especially appreciated his volunteering to moderate a video that historically summarized and recorded my entire 32-year career at UC Davis. And his tribute would not be complete without mentioning that he was one of my favorite fishing buddies.”

2022-06-14T10:20:05-07:00June 14th, 2022|

Heat Illness Prevention–Keep an Eye on Each Other

Be Aware of Heat Illness Prevention

By Patrick Cavanaugh, With the Ag Information Network

While temperatures rise in the Central Valley, those working outdoors should keep an eye on each other. You never know when someone’s coming down with a heat illness. Roger Isom is President and CEO of the Western Agricultural Processors Association based in Fresno.

“You’ve got to drink water before you get too thirsty. If you are possibly starting to have the symptoms of heat illness, get in the shade, and take a break,” said Isom. “And if you’re working with somebody, and you look at them, and you think they’re starting to do look faint, take them over, ‘Hey, you need a break, you need to get some water, get cooled down.’”

Isom said it’s very important for all the employees working in a field to keep an eye on each other. Some people don’t even understand when they’re getting heat illness.

“And you might not even realize that you’re starting to show those symptoms. And so if you’re looking out for everybody else, or they’re looking out for you, hopefully, they can prevent that more serious injury.

And foremen must know how to get emergency services to an employee in a remote area with maps.

“These fields or orchards might only have dirt roads to get back there. And if you’re working on one corner of the field, say the back corner of a section, you can’t tell somebody to come to the main intersection. You’ve got to be able to get them directed back to where the employee is,” said  “And so the maps really show that, so the foreman’s got it and he can direct the first aid responders in there to the exact spot of where the worker is. That’s the goal of the maps.”

2022-06-13T10:31:08-07:00June 13th, 2022|

Tres Osos Taggiasca and Coldani Olive Ranch Wins Olive Oil Competition

Big Fresno Fair Announces Winners of 7th Annual San Joaquin Valley Olive Oil Competition 

An incredible 69 entries were received by new and returning olive oil producers throughout California

 

After an extensive judging of quality California-produced olive oils, The Big Fresno Fair is excited to reveal the winners of the 7th Annual San Joaquin Valley Olive Oil Competition (SJVOOC). This competition, open to all olive oil producers in California with products made from their 2021 olive harvest, received a total of 69 entries from 25 olive oil producers from throughout the State.

 

Entries were received in two categories, Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) and Flavored Olive Oil, with 10 classes in total. Gold and Silver Medals were awarded, as well as an overall “Best of Show” and “Best of the Valley” selected from all of the highest scoring gold medal entries in both categories. In total there were 50 EVOO and 19 Flavored Olive Oil entries that were entered for judging. The winners of the 7th Annual San Joaquin Valley Olive Oil Competition are:

 

Best of Show

Tres Osos Taggiasca (Carmel Valley) – EVOO

Coldani Olive Ranch’s Calivirgin Habanero (Lodi) – Flavored Olive Oil

 

Best of the Valley

Coldani Olive Ranch’s Calivirgin Habanero (Lodi)

 

Extra Virgin Olive Oils

  • Gold Medal Winners
    • Spanish Blends: Fresno State Miller’s Blend (Fresno), Rancho Azul y Oro Olive Farm Estate Blend (San Miguel), Olivaia’s OLA Block X Blend (Lindsay), Cobram Estate Classic (Woodland)
    • Spanish Singles: Olivaia’s OLA Estate Sevillano (Lindsay), Mountain Springs Olive Ranch Arbequina (Paso Robles), The Olive Press Picual (Sonoma), Organic Roots Arbosana (Maxwell), Rio Bravo Ranch Picual (Bakersfield), Coppetti Olive Oil Manzanilla (Oakdale)
    • Italian Blends: Winter Creek Ruscello D’Inverno (Valley Springs), Tres Osos Robust (Carmel Valley), San Miguel Olive Farm Tuscan Gold Paradiso (San Miguel), San Miguel Olive Farm Tuscan Gold Magnifico (San Miguel), San Miguel Olive Farm Tuscan Gold Fantastico (San Miguel), Toothacre Ranch Old World Style EVOO (Ramona), Colomba Bianca (Clements)
    • Italian Singles: Tres Osos Taggiasca (Carmel Valley), Winter Creek Frantoio (Valley Springs), Coldani Olive Ranch Lodi Olive Oil Frantoio EVOO (Lodi), Cobram Estate Robust (Woodland)
2022-06-02T18:44:40-07:00June 2nd, 2022|

Statement by Mike Wade, Executive Director of the California Farm Water Coalition on the State Water Board Emergency Water Conservation Regulation

By California Farm Water Coalition

“Today’s State Water Board emergency water conservation regulation continues to demonstrate how serious this year’s drought is. Water conservation measures are reaching farther and farther into our communities and now go beyond the water supply cuts felt by California farms and rural communities earlier this year.

“The taps that deliver surface water to the farms that grow the local food we buy at grocery stores were effectively turned off in March and April. Almost half of the irrigated farmland in California has had its surface water supply reduced by 50% or more.

“We live in an increasingly unstable world, but politicians and regulators are not doing the work needed to guard our safe, affordable, domestic food supply during these uncertain times. Failing to act will not only worsen rising food costs, they may permanently disrupt the food systems that many now take for granted.

“California farms produce over half of the country’s fruits, nuts, and vegetables. California foods aren’t just in the produce aisle, but also in the ready-made foods and ingredients we eat every single day. That can’t happen without water and we cannot simply move California production to other states. A safe, affordable, domestic food supply is a national security issue, just like energy. The government must make it a priority.

“Water supply shortages affect families throughout the state and the nation that depend on California farms for the safe, fresh, and locally-produced farm products we all buy at the grocery store.”

2022-05-27T11:16:12-07:00May 25th, 2022|

Western Drought Will Impact All Americans

Congress Seeks Solutions

By  Family Farm Alliance

The U.S. is facing yet another record-breaking drought year in the West. Farmers and ranchers in some of these areas are receiving little to no water from federal water projects as they enter the dry summer months.

Meanwhile, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has decreased and destabilized worldwide agricultural commodity production and availability. Rising input costs, combined with the ongoing energy and supply chain crises, continue to impact food supply and demand.

“We’re seeing reports that the war in Ukraine, sanctions and destroyed ports could take nearly 30% of the world’s grain supply out of production or off the market this year,” Family Farm Alliance Executive Director Dan Keppen recently said at a Congressional drought forum hosted by House GOP Members.

All of the above factors have combined to cause significant inflation – food prices alone have increased 9 percent this year – that will impact all Americans.

Loss of Agricultural Water Means Less Food on Grocery Store Shelves

Many Western farmers rely on federal Bureau of Reclamation projects for irrigation water. Over the decades the operations for several of these projects – including the Klamath Project (California and Oregon) and California’s Central Valley Project – have been significantly impacted by government decisions that disproportionately direct water to perceived environmental needs.

Every acre of farmland taken out of production equates to a loss of real food that could help replenish grocery store shelves that may soon run short of once-plentiful food products.

“When people talk about taking millions of acres of California farmland out of production, those are just numbers,” said Bill Diedrich, a fourth-generation California farmer said at the recent Congressional drought forum. “Let me put them in perspective for you. For every acre that is left unplanted because of a lack of irrigation water, it is the equivalent of 50,000 salads that will not be available to consumers.”

Mr. Diedrich also serves as President of the California Farm Water Coalition.

“Our food supply is just as much a national security issue as energy,” he said. “If we fail to recognize that, we put the country at risk.”

Sacramento Valley Farmers and Business Leaders Talk About This Dry Year 

As NCWA President David Guy recently wrote, California farmers are no strangers to drought, although one of the driest years in California has widespread and significant impacts in the Sacramento Valley.

To provide some context for the dry year and the economic impacts, see the recent paper prepared by Dr. Dan Sumner at UC Davis entitled, Continued Drought in 2022 Ravages California’s Sacramento Valley EconomyIn sum, the report suggests there will be 14,000 lost jobs, with $1.315B in impacts for those who rely on agriculture in the Sacramento Valley.

In a recent Ingrained Podcast, Jim Morris was able to catch up with several farmers and business leaders on the west-side of the Sacramento Valley to talk about the dry year and the impacts they will see this year.

“We’re down to 25 percent of normal rice acreage,” said grower Kurt Richter, who farms in Colusa County. “For a westside operation, that figure is actually very high this year. I’m the only person I know who is on the west side who is even planting rice at all.”

We encourage you to listen to the Ingrained Podcast to hear firsthand how the dry year will impact people and businesses in the region.

Water Allotment to Klamath Basin Farmers Hindering Food Production Amid High Market

Many farmers across the Klamath Basin are currently in the stages of planting their crops following the first few water deliveries from irrigation districts. However, with only 50,000 acre-feet of surface water allocated by Reclamation, one farmer says the impacts of another low production year will continue to hurt the community and the farming industry.

“It’s about to get a lot worse because the entire West is in this situation and food scarcity is going to be a real thing this year,” said Scott Seus, a farmer, Tulelake Irrigation District board member, and member of the Family Farm Alliance.

CLICK HERE for the interview Scott did with CBS affiliate KTVL TV (Medford, Oregon).  

Clearly, federal management of water has become too inflexible in places like California and Central Oregon, where a frog protected by the ESA impacts water deliveries to Deschutes River Basin producers.

“We must restore balance in federal decision-making regarding water allocation, particularly in times of drought,” said Alliance President Patrick O’Toole, a rancher from Wyoming. “This is one of several solutions needed to maintain food security for the nation and the economic wellbeing of the Western landscape.”

Congress Proposes Measures to Increase Western Water Supplies

Democrats and Republicans in both houses of Congress bill are advancing additional measures that would increase water supply and modernize water infrastructure in California and other areas of the Western U.S.

A suite of new water supply enhancement projects and demand management programs can also help alleviate the stress on existing Western water supplies. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law last November by President Biden, provides a once-in-a-generation federal investment towards this end. Legislative proposals made in the House and Senate seek to further improve water supplies for the West.

In February 2021, U.S. Representative David G. Valadao introduced the Responsible, No-Cost Extension of Western Water Infrastructure Improvements, or RENEW WIIN, Act, a no-cost, clean extension of operations and storage provisions of the WIIN Act (P.L. 114-322).

“Food prices are at a record high, and people are struggling to put food on the table,” Rep. Valadao recently wrote in a recent blog, titled “Severe drought threatens America’s farmers and food supply”. “The ongoing war in Ukraine is destabilizing worldwide agricultural commodity production. Experts are warning about the very real possibility of a global food shortage. Now more than ever, we need to do everything in our power to support our domestic farmers, ranchers, and producers to provide much needed stability to our global food supply.”

The RENEW WIIN Act – supported by the Alliance and several of its member agencies – would extend the general and operations provisions of Subtitle J of the WIIN Act and extend the provision requiring consultation on coordinated operations of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project. The legislation would also extend the authorization of appropriations for water storage projects that the Secretary of the Interior finds feasible.

“Making sure our agriculture producers have access to safe, clean, and reliable water is critical,” said Rep. Valadao.

Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) on May 17 introduced S.4231, the Support to Rehydrate the Environment, Agriculture and Municipalities Act or STREAM Act, a bill that would increase water supply and modernize water infrastructure in California and throughout the West.

“If we don’t take action now to improve our drought resilience, it’s only going to get worse,” said Senator Feinstein. “We need an ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy to meet this challenge, including increasing our water supply, incentivizing projects that provide environmental benefits and drinking water for disadvantaged communities, and investing in environmental restoration efforts.”

Click here for the press release issued by Senator Feinstein’s office, which includes links to a one-page summary of the bill, a section-by-section analysis, and a list of supporters, which includes the Family Farm Alliance.

“We appreciate the increased attention that many Western Members of Congress recognize the importance of modernizing and expanding our water infrastructure,” said Mr. Keppen. “There is still time for all of our state and federal officials to right this ship and recognize the importance of storing water and growing food with it.”

2022-05-23T09:24:15-07:00May 23rd, 2022|

Community Members Invited to Support Favorite UC ANR Programs May 19-20

By Pam Kan-Rice, UCANR

California farmers can grow crops with less water. Gardeners can control pests with safer methods. Community members can take steps to protect their homes from wildfire. Children can learn life and work skills. Families can stretch their food dollars to provide nutritious meals. Californians have benefited from University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources research and outreach in many ways. And thanks to the state’s historic boost to UC ANR funding, more UC Cooperative Extension scientists and educators are being hired to address the unique needs of communities across California.

From noon to noon on May 19-20, the public is invited to donate for UC ANR Giving Day, sponsored by Tri Counties Bank, to enhance their favorite UC ANR projects or programs. 

The 24 hours of giving will expand UC ANR outreach to benefit the health and well-being of more Californians throughout the state.

In the past, donations have been used to fund UC Master Gardener demonstration gardens, purchase teaching supplies for California Naturalists, and fund scholarships for children to develop life and work skills in UC ANR’s 4-H programs.

Donors are invited to give to UC Cooperative Extension in their counties, Research and Extension Centers and favorite programs. When visitors click “GIVE” on the upper right of the website http://donate.ucanr.edu/givingday, fund choices appear in drop-down menus. 

Online gifts made between noon on May 19 and 11:59 a.m. on May 20 may help programs qualify for prize challenge awards. Donations can be made at http://donate.ucanr.edu/givingday.

If you prefer sending a check instead of donating online, please make checks payable to “UC Regents” and specify the fund, then mail to UC ANR Gift Processing, 2801 Second Street, Davis, CA 95618.

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources brings the power of UC to all 58 California counties. Through research and Cooperative Extension in agriculture, natural resources, nutrition, economic and youth development, our mission is to improve the lives of all Californians. Learn more at ucanr.edu and support our work at donate.ucanr.edu.

2022-05-17T12:07:18-07:00May 17th, 2022|

Hoobler, Machado Join Farm Land Trust Board

Bill Hoobler and Mike Machado Appointed to California Farmland Trust’s Board of Directors

California Farmland Trust is proud to introduce well-respected industry professionals and community members, Bill Hoobler and Mike Machado, as new board members.

Hoobler and Machado have been active supporters of CFT for several years and bring a wealth of institutional knowledge and deep-rooted passion to the organization.

“Bill and Mike both offer a talented skillset and valuable expertise to the board, and their combined knowledge in policy and finance will be tremendous additions to our organization,” said Charlotte Mitchell, executive director at California Farmland Trust. “We are thrilled to have such accomplished individuals join the board and look forward to working towards continued success, in service to our critical mission.”

Since 2018, Hoobler has served as a CFT committee member and dedicated his professional life to the agriculture industry. He worked in the Farm Credit system for over 39 years, specializing in lending and crop insurance, before retiring in 2016 and starting his own crop insurance agency in Patterson.

“Being involved with CFT since 2018 has been rewarding,” Hoobler said. “California farmland needs to be protected and CFT is just one way to assure that farmland will remain farmland, forever.”

Machado, a Linden native, grew up on his family’s over-100-year-old farming operation and returned to the family business after serving in Vietnam. Machado also served 14 years to the California State Legislature, where he focused on water, banking, insurance, and budget accountability. In 2015, Machado and his family placed an agricultural conservation easement on their family farm, and later in 2021, Mike protected an additional two parcels.

“Without agriculture, we don’t eat,” Machado said. “Without farmland, we don’t have agriculture. That is why the work of California Farmland Trust is so important.”

Hoobler and Machado join the existing 11 members of CFT’s board of directors and will both serve on the Budget, Finance, and Risk Management committee.

2022-05-09T11:13:42-07:00May 9th, 2022|

Port Delays Worsen as Harvest of New Crops Approaches

By Ching Lee,  AgAlert

As ongoing port congestion and persistent shipping obstacles continue to block movement of California agricultural goods, farmers and exporters face bulging warehouses and dwindling cash flow that threaten to sink some businesses.

Tree nuts, fresh produce, dairy products and other California farm commodities struggle to find rides on vessels and containers in which to ship them, with ocean carriers rushing to set sail empty rather than hauling agricultural exports.

“We have 50 loads packed and ready to ship, that customers would take tomorrow, that we can’t get on the ship,” said Bill Carriere, a Glenn County walnut grower and handler.

Agricultural exporters say their shipping problems—which trace to pandemic-related supply-chain disruptions that started in 2020—have only gotten worse. More shipping companies have notified them that they won’t stop at the Port of Oakland to pick up containerized farm products, which account for 60% of total exports through the port. The companies opt instead to return ships directly to Asia following long delays in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Only one ocean carrier—Mediterranean Shipping Co.—so far has committed to servicing the Port of Oakland, said Roger Isom, president and CEO of the Western Agricultural Processors Association and California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association.

The Northern California port saw 67,910 empty containers leave its shores during the first two months of this year. That’s compared to 37,263 empties during the same time in 2020, according to a letter that agricultural groups, including the California Farm Bureau, sent to the Biden administration last week. The letter further noted that three out of four containers at U.S. ports return to Asia empty.

Because ships continue to bypass the Oakland port, exporters say the opening in March of a new “pop-up” yard for pickup of empty containers has offered limited relief. The temporary hub, located offsite of the port, allows shippers to stage export loads while avoiding busy marine terminals where most empty containers are stored.

As of last week, there were more than 500 containers in the yard, said port spokesman Robert Bernardo. The port saw 83 ships stopping in Oakland in March, compared to 93 a year ago. Reduced vessel arrivals were due in part to a COVID-related port shutdown in Shanghai, the port said.

Though the port has enough empty containers to cover current demand, Bernardo said supplies remain “in constant flux.” He said he expects inventory to tighten as imports from China begin to resume.

Aside from dealing with a shortage of containers, agricultural shippers say they struggle to secure bookings, which often get canceled or “rolled,” meaning the cargo wasn’t loaded onto the scheduled vessel, usually because there’s no room.

To read more, click here.

2022-05-04T12:14:43-07:00May 4th, 2022|

Westlands Water District awarded $7.6 Million Grant by the California Department of Water Resources

Grant Funds Will Help Create Drought Resilience, Increase Investment In Recharge Projects, and Drive Regional Groundwater Sustainability

 Today the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) awarded Westlands Water District, which serves as the Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) for the Westside Subbasin, a $7.6 million grant as part of the Department’s Sustainable Groundwater Management (SGM) Proposition 68 Implementation Grant Program. This grant provides critical investment in the District’s efforts to ensure a sustainable groundwater basin.
“As we enter the third year of historic drought, Westlands remains committed to utilizing the most proactive, innovative, and scientifically-sound strategies in groundwater management,” said Tom Birmingham, general manager of Westlands. “This grant funding from DWR will be instrumental to the District’s implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and to achieving groundwater sustainability. We are grateful for the support and investment in these vital projects.”
The grant funding will further three key efforts within the Subbasin: the Storage Treatment Aquifer Recharge (STAR) Program, Phase 1; the Westside Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) 5-year Update; and the Westside Subbasin Geophysical Investigation for Recharge Potential.
The STAR Program will establish a network of treatment and aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) facilities in the Westside Subbasin. These facilities will treat water from the unconfined upper aquifer and provide temporary storage of surplus supplies. Based on current design, each treatment facility could treat up to 10,000 acre-feet a year and each ASR well could inject up to 1,200 gallons per minute to be stored for later use. Phase 1 of the STAR Program includes planning and identification of locations for the treatment facilities.
The funding will also support the District’s 5-year review and update of the Westside Subbasin GSP. This update enables the District to assess the implementation of the GSP and incorporate the latest information on groundwater conditions, technology, and science. The 2025 update will reflect progress towards achieving the Westside Subbasin 2040 sustainability goals, key groundwater project, and SGMA regulations compliance.
Lastly, the grant provided by DWR will also provide funding for the Westside Subbasin Geophysical Investigation for Recharge Potential. This Investigation consists of conducting geotechnical examinations on lands within the Westside Subbasin to identify groundwater recharge potential. The data collected will help interested parties, such as growers and/or the District, determine if a proposed site is feasible for groundwater
2022-05-03T11:03:46-07:00May 3rd, 2022|
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