Upstream Rehabilitation, a dedicated outpatient physical therapy provider, has added a new clinic partner in the Lehigh Valley.
Transform Rehabilitation has single clinics in Allentown, New Tripoli and Whitehall. The parties completed the transaction on Tuesday.
New Jersey natives Kyle Lance and Thomas Fraind founded Transform Rehabilitation in late 2018 and saw their first patients at the start of 2019.
“We’ve been successful, with year-over-year growth in each of the clinics,” said Lance, who earned a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Scranton. “But Thomas and I were looking for a partner that can enhance our administrative functions, recruiting and expansion plans.”
Fraind, who received a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Thomas Jefferson University, noted that the partnership will help Transform grow while allowing its founders to remain active in their communities.
“Kyle and I are clinicians first and foremost and caring for our patients and the communities where we all live is what drives our practice,” Fraind said. “That approach will be enhanced as we grow Transform into a bigger, more successful business with Upstream.”
Phil Christian, Upstream’s senior vice president of business development, worked closely with the founders on the transaction.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Kyle, Thomas and their team to the Upstream family,” Christian said. “They have a strong vision for what they want Transform to become, and Upstream sees a great opportunity to help them achieve it.”
Gas prices in Pennsylvania have finally dropped below $4 per gallon after reaching record highs earlier this year.
According to the AAA East Central Gas Price report, prices are thirteen cents lower this week at $3.975 per gallon.
In the Lehigh Valley prices dropped even lower.
The average price for a gallon of gas on Sept. 7 was $3.895, down from $4.009 on Aug. 31, but still higher than the average price on Sept. 7, 2021 when it was $3.246 per gallon.
The national average for a gallon of gas fell almost eight cents in the past week to $3.76. Today’s national average is 30.5 cents less than a month ago but almost 58 cents more than a year ago.
Lower oil prices, modest domestic gasoline demand, and a so-far quiet hurricane season are combining to drive pump prices lower, according to AAA.
According to weather analysts, it’s the first time in 25 years that a named Atlantic storm did not develop in August.
Meanwhile, oil prices dipped on recent decreased Chinese manufacturing output due to lower demand for goods and new COVID‑19 outbreaks in critical industrial cities.
The association said this is fueling fears that oil demand could drop in China, the world’s largest importer of crude oil.
Additionally, prices declined most of last week amid market concerns that crude demand will fall if economic growth slows or stalls due to a recession. EIA’s latest weekly report showed that total commercial crude inventories decreased by 3.4 million barrels to 418.3 million barrels.
According to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), domestic gas demand increased slightly from 8.43 million barrels per day to 8.59 million barrels per day last week. However, the rate is nearly 1 million barrels per day lower than the last week of August 2021. Also, total domestic gasoline stocks decreased by 1.1 million barrels to 214.5 million barrels.
Imperial has announced a long-term contract with Air Products to supply low-carbon hydrogen for Imperial’s proposed renewable diesel complex at its Strathcona refinery near Edmonton, Alberta.
Air Products will provide pipeline supply from its hydrogen plant under construction in Edmonton.
Imperial will use Air Products’ low-carbon hydrogen to produce renewable diesel at Strathcona that substantially reduces greenhouse gas emissions relative to conventional production. The hydrogen and biofeedstock will be combined with a proprietary catalyst to produce premium low-carbon diesel fuel.
Air Products is increasing overall investment in its Edmonton hydrogen facility to $1.6 billion to support the Imperial contract.
The additional investment by Air Products will be used to facilitate integration with Imperial’s proposed project that is expected to enable further significant emissions reductions at Air Products’ overall complex. Air Products will supply Strathcona with approximately 50 percent of the low-carbon hydrogen output from the 165 million standard cubic feet per day hydrogen production complex.
“There is significant demand for low-carbon hydrogen, and as a first-mover, Air Products is ready to meet that demand from our Alberta Blue Hydrogen Hub,” said Samir J. Serhan, chief operating officer at Air Products. “Canada is rapidly implementing an energy transition that emphasizes the use of low-carbon hydrogen, and Air Products is demonstrating that world-scale hydrogen facilities can be net-zero for carbon emissions. We continue to set the stage for a competitive, low-carbon-intensity hydrogen network, which includes increasing liquid hydrogen production capacity at our site to 35 metric tons per day, to provide clean hydrogen for the growing industrial and mobility markets across Canada.”
This year’s competition will be held at Factory’s headquarters in South Bethlehem on Oct. 26, from 6:30-8:00 p.m.
In a Shark Tank-style event designed to showcase startup companies in the Lehigh Valley community and throughout Pennsylvania, 10 finalists will pitch their products and businesses to a panel of judges in front of a live and virtual audience. More than thirty thousand dollars in prize money is up for grabs, along with essential resources for startup businesses.
“The StartUp Lehigh Valley pitch competition is designed to help grow and showcase the entrepreneurship that’s already happening in the Valley from Easton to Allentown and getting the communities excited about supporting these local startups,” said Richard Thompson, managing partner at Factory. “We are thrilled to be partnering with WFMZ this year to broadcast the event live and reach more people than ever before. We also want to applaud Penn State Lehigh Valley LaunchBox for working with us to help pull off this competition, and for providing vital resources to our local entrepreneurs year-round, but to be clear all college and university students are welcome to participate.”
Thompson said Factory considered dozens of cities across the U.S. before building its innovation and scaleup facility, and they found exactly they we were looking for here in the Lehigh Valley.
“The Lehigh Valley has easy access to major airports and cities, a competitive talent pool, top-tier universities, and an exploding logistics industry,” he said. “It’s perfectly poised to become a hotbed for innovation, and this competition is all about building that entrepreneurial community. This event is helping to create a startup ecosystem right here in the Lehigh Valley.”
The grand prize winner will take home $20,000, with two runners up earning $3,000 and $2,000 respectively. The live and virtual audience will also vote for the winner of a $1,000 Audience Choice award. Entrepreneurs have until Oct. 7 to apply and can find all the details at startuplehighvalley.com.
For the first time this year, the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania will present a Ben Franklin Technology Partners award to the top early-stage technology-based firm. This winner, which may be the grand prize winner or another competitor, will receive a $5,000 Ben Franklin Business and Technical Assistance grant for a specific project that is crucial to the company’s development.
The prize money is presented by Lehigh Valley LaunchBox. The PSU-LV LaunchBox innovation hub is located in Center Valley and provides comprehensive startup resources ranging from free legal services to access to expert business advisors. LV LaunchBox is powered by Penn State’s expansive innovation network of 21 hubs across Pennsylvania. All participants will have the opportunity to network at the event and are invited to take advantage of the full range of LaunchBox’s services.
German chemical company, Evonik, held a ribbon cutting Thursday at its new state-of-the-art Innovation Hub in Trexlertown.
Located on property Evonik purchased from Air Products about 6 years ago, the 30,000-square-foot space will be the centerpiece of growth at the two-building site said Tracey Mole, vice president of the Business & Innovation Center.
“This the first major milestone in our modernization project,” he said.
The space will be the center of the company’s global research and development efforts and will serve as a collaborative space where researchers, marketing and financing staff can all work together on innovation.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf noted that the state helped fund the development of the center, which he called an important addition to the state and the Lehigh Valley.
“Evonik’s new, state-of-the-art space will build on Pennsylvania’s strength as a center for advanced manufacturing,” said Wolf. “I’m proud to have invested $2.5 million in this Innovation Hub that will bring new, good-paying jobs to the Allentown region.”
According to Evonik, the company employs 300 at the Trexlertown facility. The project is helping to retain more than 200 of those employees as well as adding 50 high-paying jobs in advanced manufacturing.
Ute Wolf, CFO of Evonik said having the center in Trexlertown will help the Lehigh Valley become the center of Evonik’s global growth.
“Innovation is very important. What we really brings us forward is new ideas and education,” she said.
To express the importance of innovation to Evonik, Ute Wolf noted that the company spends about $500,000 per year on research and development.
Jean Vincent, senior vice president of R&D, specialty additives, said the company’s research into high-performing plastics, used in applications from medical implants to football cleats, is the centerpiece of the company’s work at the facility, but the company also researches other things such as additives to insulation used in refrigerators to products that help make paint brighter.
“We research new chemistry applications of technology right down to the molecular level,” she said.
The Innovation Hub project was managed by Boyle Construction, and Mole said it won’t be the last new construction the company will have at the site.
“I would like to see the site continue to grow,” he said, noting the space to add new building was one of the features that attracted Evonik to purchase the property.
What attracted the company to locate in the Lehigh Valley in the first place, he said, was the region’s education landscape. He said with the large number of universities in the region, Evonik has a sizeable pool of highly educated and skilled talent to recruit from.
In fact, the company recently donated $100,000 to the Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown to help promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education for young women.
Like many companies, Mole said Evonik was also drawn to the Lehigh Valley because of its geography. He noted it’s close to other innovation hubs like New York and Boston but has the affordability of living that offers a better quality of life for employees.
A global online marketplace for sneakers, apparel and accessories is opening a facility in the Lehigh Valley.
The Colliers Logistics & Transportation team for Eastern Pennsylvania said it recently leased 341,400 square feet of distribution and fulfillment space at 3895 Eastgate Boulevard in the First 33 Commerce Center in Easton to Los Angeles-based GOAT Group on behalf of First Industrial Real Estate.
GOAT, which is an acronym for “Greatest of All Time”, serves both primary and resale markets. The e-commerce company, founded in 2015 has been growing rapidly andprocessed more than $2 billion in sales last year.
The firm has 30 million members who visit its website to purchase hard-to-find and luxury products through what it described as a powerful and disruptive global technology platform.
The Central Pennsylvania Chapter of Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) has expanded its footprint to become a statewide chapter of the national IEC association under its new identity IEC Pennsylvania.
As IEC Pennsylvania, the chapter will represent merit-shop and independent electrical and systems contractors in all but three of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.
The chapter previously consisted of 20 counties in the South Central and Southwestern parts of the state, extending from the greater Pittsburgh region to the Susquehanna Valley region including the cities of Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon and York, and Lehigh Valley.
“As our chapter’s coverage area has grown through the years, our name was no longer reflective of the larger area we served,” said Marissa Bankert, executive director of IEC Pennsylvania. “Additionally, our board and leadership were keenly aware that there were electricians in Pennsylvania who did not have access to the benefits, programs and resources of IEC chapter membership. With our transformation into IEC Pennsylvania, merit-shop electrical contractors now all have access to a chapter that serves their interests and offers continuing education and apprenticeships throughout the Commonwealth.”
IEC Pennsylvania’s apprenticeship program covers residential, commercial and industrial construction and electrical wiring. The four-year, employer-paid program is registered with the U.S. Department of Labor and the Pennsylvania Apprenticeship and Training Council, Bankert said.
Apprentices work full-time and attend instructional classes in-person and online. The program boasts a 100% hiring rate after graduation.IEC Pennsylvania also offers a state registered pre-apprenticeship program for high school students and individuals seeking to learn additional skills.
The chapter’s continuing education program for electricians and electrical contractor owners includes in-person and online classes in subjects such as business management, First Aid/CPR, ariel lift operation, variable frequency drive systems, arc flash analysis and code updates.
“Choosing to become an electrician is choosing a solid career path,” Bankert said. “Electricians earn a good income and have a high level of job security. The job outlook for electricians is also strong, with nine percent employment growth projected in the current decade.”
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for electricians in Pennsylvania was $68,660 in May 2021, which is an hourly wage of $33 not including benefits.
The handbook also notes that growth in alternative power generation, such as solar and wind, is expected to require more electricians. Electricians will increasingly be needed to link alternative power sources to homes, commercial properties and power grids in the coming years.
In conjunction with its expanded footprint and name change, the chapter has introduced a new logo identity. The graphic in the IEC Pennsylvania logo represents an electrical circuit diagram in the shape of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Gas prices continue their retreat from record highs.
Gas prices in Pennsylvania are almost nine cents lower this week at $4.121 per gallon, according to AAA East Central’s Gas Price Report.
In the Lehigh Valley the average price for a gallon of gas was $4.018 on Aug. 30, down from $4.129 on Aug. 23.
Gas prices in the Lehigh Valley are still significantly higher than they were a year ago. The average price for a gallon of gas on Aug. 30, 2021 was $3.275.
According to AAA, the national average for a gallon of gas fell almost a nickel this past week to $3.84. Even though crude oil prices increased slightly over the past week, lower domestic demand for gasoline is keeping gas prices lower. Today’s national average is $1.17 less than the record set in mid-June but is still 69 cents more than a year ago.
According to new data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), gas demand decreased from 9.35 million barrels per day to 8.43 million barrels per day last week. This rate is 920,000 barrels per day lower than last year. Moreover, according to EIA, total domestic gasoline stocks remained almost unchanged week over week. With gas demand down and supplies unchanged, prices at the pump continue to fall, AAA said. This steady daily decrease, now in its 75th consecutive day, is the longest streak since October 11, 2018 when the national average price of gas fell for 85 consecutive days.
Employment in the Lehigh Valley’s outsized manufacturing sector grew at a rate 11 times faster than the nation as a whole in the last five years primarily because the popular products made here helped drive the economic recovery during the pandemic, according to a new Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. analysis.
Home to iconic manufacturers including Mack Trucks and Crayola, the Lehigh Valley realized an annualized net employment gain of 2.2%, or 3,600 manufacturing jobs in total. U.S. manufacturing employment is at 12.7 million, rising by two-tenths of a percent annually in the last five years, according to workforce data analyzed on Chmura Economics’ JobsEQ platform.
At 35,000 jobs, manufacturing employment in the Lehigh Valley now exceeds what it was before the pandemic and its economic output, at $7.9 billion, ranks among the nation’s 50 largest manufacturing markets.
The region is a “boomtown” for growth, particularly among beverage manufacturers, because of its ample water supply, sewage infrastructure and location in the heart of the Northeast market, within a four-hour truck drive of 38 million people, said Adrian Ponsen, director of U.S. Industrial Analytics at CoStar, a leading source of real estate data.
The Lehigh Valley is located “in the middle of the Northeastern U.S.’s Washington D.C. to Boston corridor — the largest cluster of purchasing power in the Western hemisphere,” Ponsen said. “This not only makes the Lehigh Valley an optimal location for distributors, but also for manufacturers who want their production to remain as close to as many of their customers as possible.”
LVEDC President and CEO Don Cunningham said the data reinforces the message that he’s been sending for years: the Lehigh Valley still makes stuff.
“Manufacturing has a long and rich history in the Lehigh Valley and remains a cornerstone of the evolving economy,” Cunningham said. “The new data speaks volumes about the resilience of our manufacturers and the economic assets that make the Lehigh Valley a manufacturing powerhouse.”
The data in the analysis measures manufacturing employment growth in Lehigh and Northampton counties from the first quarter in 2017 to the first quarter in 2022 and is based on a four-quarter moving average, which smooths out seasonal variations.
The data JobsEQ uses is derived from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, a cooperative program involving the Bureau of Labor Statistics and State Employment Security Agencies. The program serves as “a near census” of monthly employment and quarterly employment and wage data by industry on the national, state and county levels, according to the Pennsylvania Center for Workforce Information and Analysis.
On the eve of the pandemic, the Lehigh Valley’s economy was expanding as it produced a record Gross Domestic Product topping $44 billion, larger than three states, and manufacturing was fueling that growth. Global employers, such as B. Braun Medical and Coca-Cola, announced significant expansions in the region.
When COVID-19 disrupted the economy, Lehigh Valley manufacturers adapted to the supply shocks and labor shortages brought on by the pandemic as it worked to supply the nation with medical supplies, food and other essential items.
By the end of 2020, the Lehigh Valley became the nation’s 49th largest manufacturing market. By the end of 2021, exports had recovered, rising to a record $4.1 billion, according to the U.S Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Last year, manufacturers completed $221 million worth of development which was linked to 1,000 new jobs in the Lehigh Valley. Another $500 million worth of development, tied to more than 700 jobs, is either under construction or announced.
Among them is B. Braun Medical, a German-owned life sciences company with its U.S. headquarters in the Lehigh Valley and manufacturing operations. The company is expanding its Allentown plant as part of a $1 billion investment in modernizing and updating U.S. facilities, adding 250 employees to the 2,000 already employed here.
“The expansion of our Allentown facility reflects B. Braun’s long-time commitment to grow our business in the Lehigh Valley,” said Robert Albert, senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “With its central location, high quality workforce, vibrant communities, and ability to partner with leading healthcare and academic institutions, the Lehigh Valley is an ideal location for a company like ours.”
Manufacturers value the Lehigh Valley for its affordable location 90 minutes from the financial centers in New York City and within a day’s drive of a third of the U.S. population. Exporters can take tax advantages in the region’s Foreign Trade Zone that LVEDC administers. The Lehigh Valley has a skilled workforce, and the region is growing in population. Educational partnerships are working to keep the talent flowing.
That has helped stem the fallout from the disruptions caused by COVID-19 and rebound employment quicker than other parts of the country, Cunningham said.
The Lehigh Valley, which is home to Freshpet and Just Born, outperformed the nation when it came to employment growth among food and pet food manufacturers, an LVEDC target sector, over the last five years. The nation’s employment in the sector grew by an annualized rate of 1%. Food manufacturing in the Lehigh Valley grew at a rate of 7.9% or 1,245 jobs.
Among the stronger manufacturing employment gains in the Lehigh Valley were in chemical manufacturing, a wide-ranging sector that includes everything from shampoo to vaccine production. Employment in chemical-making grew at an annualized rate of 7.9%, or 1,068 jobs, over the last five years, eclipsing the national rate of 1.5%.
Some of the local manufacturers working in that space include Piramal Critical Care, which makes inhalation anesthesia products; BioSpectra, which makes pharmaceutical ingredients; A.P. Deauville, which makes personal grooming products, and Evonik, a German specialty chemical company which bought a specialty additive business from Air Products, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in the Lehigh Valley.
The Lehigh Valley is continuing to show strong signs of manufacturing growth. Last month, Phoenix Tube, a leading manufacturer of stainless-steel products, announced it is expanding its operation in Bethlehem, a move that will result in a new production line and the creation and retention of at least 165 total jobs.
“While high inflation and uncertainty over the recovery still looms, interest in the Lehigh Valley among manufacturers continues to be strong,” said Kristin Cahayla-Hoffman, vice president of business development and attraction for the LVEDC.
She said 31 of the 38 prospects the LVEDC was tracking in July were manufacturers.
Truist Foundation Friday announced a $2.25 million grant to Community First Fund to help launch its Economic Justice Fund (EJFund).
Community First Fund, a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), dedicated to aligning capital with social justice for low-income communities and low-wealth individuals, will use the grant to support lending activities to Black and Latino entrepreneurs across Community First Fund’s service footprint in Eastern and Central Pennsylvania, including Lehigh Valley.
Community First Fund is embarking on a campaign to grow the fund to $50 million over the next five years, the nonprofit said.
“The Truist Foundation supports intermediaries which provide capital at favorable rates and terms for small business owners and individuals in historically excluded communities,” said Lynette Bell, president of Truist Foundation. “The work of Community First Fund provides essential financial and technical assistance to help diverse entrepreneurs scale their businesses.”
The $2.25 million grant is part of Truist’s recent $120 million commitment to strengthen and support small businesses nationally, with a focus on women and diverse business owners, Bell said. Community First Fund’s work to create financial equity through wealth building opportunities for individuals, families, and business owners, especially Black and Latino individuals, women, and immigrants embodies Truist’s commitment to these communities.
The work of Community First Fund is centered around creating sustainable prosperity for low-wealth communities and individuals by providing loans and investments to small businesses, and real estate financing to non-profit developers and entrepreneurs for commercial and affordable housing projects.
“The Truist Foundation grant of $2.25 million helps us close the opportunity gap for small business owners and entrepreneurs to start, grow and expand their businesses, create jobs, advance economic mobility and increase financial stability in their community,” said Community First Fund President and CEO Daniel Betancourt.
“This grant and partnership with Community First Fund underscores our commitment to supporting entrepreneurs throughout Pennsylvania,” said Travis Rhodes, Delaware Valley and Lehigh Valley regional president for Truist. “Small businesses are the bedrock of Philadelphia’s economy, and the work of Community First Fund is creating opportunities for more individuals while supporting employees, families and neighborhoods throughout the greater Philadelphia region.”
Plenty of good news at Lehigh Valley International Airport.
The Lehigh Northampton Airport Authority has reported that its July passenger traffic was the highest on record.
Last month 97,652 traveled through the airport, up .44% from July 2021 when 97,221 passengers used the airport.
Allegiant reported a traffic jump of 9.9%, while United moved up 9.7%. Meanwhile, American remained flat and Delta sharply decreased 25.9% from last July.
“We prepared for higher passenger volumes and ABE has certainly experienced that rush and steady flow of travelers as predicted by experts in the industry. It’s anticipated this activity will remain seasonally busy through Labor Day weekend. Airport staff have done a remarkable job of delivering the highest level of customer service,” said Thomas R. Stoudt, executive director of the airport authority.
It was also announced that Lehigh Valley International Airport is receiving $6.9 million in new infrastructure funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). This grant is an award from the Airport Improvement Program.
This funding will be used torehabilitate the airport’s runways, including improving runway lighting to ensure safe operations.
With this latest funding, Lehigh Valley International Airport has received a total of $23.4 million in federal investments since the start of 2021.
Pennsylvania protected 784 acres on 18 farms in nine counties from future development today, investing more than $3.166 million in state, county and local dollars to ensure that prime farmland is not lost to development.
Pennsylvania has now protected 6,094 farms and 614,668 acres in 58 counties from future commercial, industrial or residential development.
The 18 newly preserved farms are in Berks, Centre, Chester, Erie, Lebanon, Lehigh, Northampton, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
“Preserving farmland is an investment in our economy, our environment, our quality of life, and our future food security,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “We’re proud of that investment and we owe these farm families a debt of gratitude for making a decision that guards their family legacies and benefits all of Pennsylvania.”
By selling their land’s development rights, landowners ensure that their farm will remain a farm and never be sold for residential, commercial or industrial development, Redding said. Farm families often sell their land at below market value, donate additional land or agree to conservation practices on their farms in order to leverage additional federal and state money to preserve others’ family farms.
Pennsylvania partners with county and sometimes local governments and non-profits to purchase development rights, ensuring a strong future for farming and food security and leading the nation in the number of preserved farms. Since 1988, Pennsylvania has invested more than $1.6 billion to protect open, green spaces and food production for the future.
Among the farms preserved today are:
Berks County –Total investment $157,936 state, $24,150 county.
The Sharon P. Cameron Farm, Centre Township, a 31-acre crop farm.
The David L. and Linda J. Nirschl Farm, Penn Township, a 34-acre crop and livestock farm.
Lebanon County –Total investment $710 state (owner donated land).
The Sue Ellen and John T. Bowman Farm, North Lebanon Township, a 1-acre crop farm.
Lehigh County – Total investment $337,396 state, $556,536 county, $ 212,500 township.
The Susan M. and Edwin C. Gardner, Jr., North Whitehall Township, Farm, a 17-acre horse farm.
The Robert A. Schmidt Farm, North Whitehall Township, a 50-acre crop farm.
The Kevin L. Smith Farm #4, Washington Township, a 12-acre crop farm.
The Marshall M. Mangold Farm, Lowhill Township, a 94-acre crop farm.
Northampton County –Total investment $267,879 state, $160,882 county, $239,102 township.
The Richard B. and Lois P. Kerbacher Farm, Moore Township, a 57-acre crop farm.
The Kyle J. Kerr Farm, Washington Township, an 11-acre beef farm.
The Carol Nagy Smith and Stewart C. Smith Jr. Farm, a 20-acre crop farm.
The Dianne L., Marshall A., Hope D. and Donald W. Woolverton Sr.; and Jayann M. and Jeffrey W. Kerr Farm, Washington Township, a 52-acre crop and livestock farm.
Pennsylvania’s Farmland Preservation Program recently secured a $7.85 million grant from the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program to support climate-smart conservation on preserved Pennsylvania farms, the Department of Agriculture said.
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