Member Updates

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Region 4 Community Input Meeting on April 18th!

Mark your calendars 🗓️ Red River Regional Council & FARRMS invite you to a Community Input Meeting in Region 4!
Thursday, April 18, 2024 | 5PM-7PM
Chase Building - 516 Cooper Avenue, Suite 101 Grafton, ND 58237
❗ Please RSVP by April 16th: 
We want to hear from YOU, the producers, purchasers, community leaders & members, and local food supporters about how we can help grow your businesses and make local food more accessible in your communities. The North Central Regional Food Business Center (NC-RFBC) exists to help local food businesses in North Dakota succeed through coordinated planning, technical assistance, and financial support.
Learn more about the project:
Apply for Business Builder Sub-Awards:

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NEW AmeriCorps member Opportunity!

FARRMS has a new AmeriCorps member service opportunity available through the Souris Basin Planning Council's Community Builder program! This Communications Capacity Building Member will collaborate with FARRMS staff in creating social media content, and develop new & maintain existing marketing projects.
This is a 900-hour AmeriCorps member opportunity where the benefits include a monthly living stipend, grocery/rent assistance stipend, and an education award.

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Watch Previous NDLFDA Meetings

Did you miss last month's meeting? Find the 2024 meeting recordings below to catch up or watch again!

Click here to watch February 2024: Amanda Olson, ND Dept of Public Instruction - NDSU Extension, to hear about Farm to School Program updates.

Click here to watch January 2024: Scott Grandi-Hill discussing the United Tribes Technical College Sustainable Ag & Food Systems Program.


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Upcoming Local Food Conferences & Events!

Spend the winter expanding your knowledge! 🧠 

Read FARRMS' latest newsletter to learn about upcoming organic and local food related conferences, webinars, and events OR check the comments on their Facebook post for the most up to date events! 

Read the newsletter at

Find the Facebook Post by Clicking HERE

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USDA Rural Business Development Grant Applications open in North Dakota

USDA Rural Development is accepting 2024 Rural Business Development Grant applications! 🔔
This grant is designed to support targeted technical assistance, training, and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses in rural areas that have fewer than 50 employees and less than $1 million in gross revenues.
➡️ Learn more & apply at
Applications for 2023 funding will be accepted through February 28, 2024.

Update for Jan 16, 2024

The Northern Plains RC&D Council is currently evaluating the possiblity of conducting a program to assist small grocers, and communities without grocery stores, in our service area.

Update for Oct 17, 2023

Farm to School Meetings Across the State

NDSU Extension is partnering with ND Department of Public Instruction and ND Department of Agriculture to host Farm to School meetings across the state. Please attend, encourage farmers, ranchers, and producers to attend and bring a friend! 

  • Jamestown (Gladstone Inn): November 14th -
  • Williston (Williston Research Extension Center): November 20th - (VIRTUAL OPTION AVAILABLE)
  • Dickinson (Dickinson Research Extension Center): November (VIRTUAL OPTION AVAILABLE)
  • Bismarck (Location TBD): December
  • St. Michael (Spirit Lake Casino & Resort): December 11th -

Contact your local NDSU Extension office for more information. 



Grants available for Community Development/Local Food Projects

Thank you to Deb Nelson of Vision West ND for sharing these upcoming grant opportunities!

Below are three very different funding opportunities: USDA-RD’s HFFI program for healthy food retailers and other food enterprises; an anti-poverty program from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and a program to promote environment and resource sustainability from a private foundation. Check them out if you have an interest. All fund nationally.



America’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative: Partnerships Program

Application deadline: November 3, 2023
Grant amount: Up to a total of $30,000,000 is available. Grants to applicants will range from $200,000 to $3,000,000 depending on the type of activities proposed.
Description: America’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI), a program administered by Reinvestment Fund on behalf of USDA Rural Development, works to improve access to fresh, healthy foods in underserved rural and urban areas. HFFI’s new Local and Regional Healthy Food Financing Partnerships Program will support public-private partnerships to establish and grow local, regional, or state food financing programs that provide financial and technical assistance to healthy food retailers (grocery and other markets) and food enterprises (food retail supply chain businesses). Grants will provide support for operating expenses (capacity building activities) and to help deploy loans and other financial assistance (credit enhancement activities). Eligible applicants include regional, state, or local public-private partnerships of two or more entities that are organized to improve access to fresh, healthy foods and provide financial and technical assistance to eligible projects.

Catholic Campaign for Human Development

Application deadline: Pre-applications are due November 1, 2023.
Grant amount: $25,000 to $75,000
Description: The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) is the domestic anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic Bishops. CCHD works to break the cycle of poverty by helping low-income people participate in decisions that affect their lives, families, and communities. CCHD’s Community Development Grant Program supports organizations that are led by people living in poverty and work to address the root causes of poverty by nurturing solidarity between the poor and non-poor and facilitating the participation of people living in poverty in decisions that perpetuate poverty in their lives. The Economic Development Grant Program supports economic development initiatives that significantly include the voice of the poor and marginalized in developing new businesses that offer good jobs or develop assets that will be owned and enjoyed by local communities. (Applicant organizations must not promote activities that work against Catholic values.)

Cornell Douglas Foundation

Application deadline: November 30, 2023
Description: The Cornell Douglas Foundation seeks to advocate for environmental health and justice, encourage stewardship of the environment, and further respect for sustainability of resources. The Foundation provides grants to organizations in the United States that focus on environmental health and justice, land conservation, mountaintop removal mining, sustainability of resources, and watershed protection

Rural Food Sustainability Grant Program Strengthens Local and Regional Food Systems




BISMARCK, N.D. – The North Dakota Department of Commerce is launching the Rural Food Sustainability Grant Program, dedicated to boosting food access, sustainability, and economic development in rural communities. This program supports sustainable grocery services, food access, and the growth of rural food co-ops. These co-ops help aggregate, store, and distribute food in rural areas, addressing unique challenges.


"Commerce is committed to enhancing wealth and quality of life in North Dakota," says Emma Cook, Community Development Liaison for Commerce. "The program aims to strengthen local food systems, improve grocery supply quality, encourage local partnerships, support innovative solutions, foster rural community development, and promote economic collaboration." The program includes two components:


Component 1: Feasibility studies for food accessibility and expansion projects (up to $20,000).

Component 2: Grants for implementation of sustainable food access projects (up to $300,000).


The following outlines the timeline for applications and awards:


  • Applications Open: Sep 8, 2023.
  • Applications Close: Oct 13, 2023.
  • Awards: Oct 24, 2023.


Component 2 will be opening in early 2024.


Eligible applicants include nonprofits, local entities, economic development organizations, and tribal entities. The program focuses on communities with a population of less than 10,000 and encourages but does not require matching funds. Regular maintenance funding is excluded, and projects must enhance food access with a sustainable plan.


For further details, visit


The North Dakota Department of Commerce works to improve the quality of life for North Dakota citizens by leading efforts to attract, retain and expand wealth. Commerce serves businesses and communities statewide through committed people and partners who offer valuable programs and dynamic services.


For more North Dakota news and information, go to


C O N T A C T:


Amber Werner     |     701-328-5303


Kim Schmidt     |     701-328-2532




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NDSU Extension offers Farmers Market Food Navigator Bundles!

When farmers markets accept SNAP benefits, fresh, locally-produced foods are made available to all community members. SNAP acceptance at farmers markets improves affordability and helps individuals and families stretch their food dollars. For some, farmers markets can be a new environment offering unfamiliar foods, and understanding how SNAP benefits can be redeemed may be unclear. The Farmers Market Food Navigator program can help by:

  • Building SNAP customer confidence when talking with farmers
  • Helping SNAP customers select produce
  • Informing SNAP customers how to utilize SNAP at farmers markets
  • Exposing SNAP customers to new foods

NDSU Extensin SNAP-Ed provides nutrition resources, healthy recipe tastings, and increases knowledge and awareness of using food assistance benefits at farmers markets.

The Farmers Market Food Navigator kit includes:  

  • Canvas apron with food navigator branding
  • ‘SNAP Accepted Here’ table top banner
  • Farmers Market Food Navigator Playbook, including technical assistance for educators, farmers markets, and/or community partners

When implementing the Farmers Market Food Navigator program, opportunities will be created to build partnerships with community-based organizations to raise awareness and increase use of SNAP benefits at farmers markets.

For more information, contact your local county Extension office or 

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FARRMS Seeking Two Interns!

The Sustainable Ag Internship Program provides a unique opportunity for individuals, of all ages, to explore their interest in local foods and participate in the daily activities of a sustainable farm.
Interns will spend time learning, in weekly classes and from local farmers, various topics such as North Dakota food systems, livestock, high tunnels, marketing, and more. There will also be opportunities to visit other farms around the state.
This program is a great first step for individuals that want to start a farm of their own in the future!
$15/hr | 20hrs/week | May to October (scheduling can be adjusted based on individuals needs)
The TWO open positions are at: 
Beagle Hill Organic Farm | Minot, ND
Beagle Hill Organic Farm is a small organic farm growing 30 different crops, specializing in leafy greens, salad mixes and herbs. They strive to provide healthy produce of the highest quality for the local community utilizing no-till practices.
Heart and Soil Farm | Grandin, ND
Heart and Soil Farm has been providing healthy, local foods to their community through the practice of good land stewardship since 2013. Farmers Amber and Ross grow a diversified mix of vegetables and supply eggs using time-honored cultural practices, such as composting, green manures, and crop rotation. Heart and Soil Farm is also a founding member and active participant in the Red River Harvest Cooperative, a producer-owned marketing cooperative.
Learn more & apply at

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NDFMGA Grants are Open!

The North Dakota Farmers Market and Growers Association has announced their available grants for 2023! Grants are open now and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Learn more & download applications:

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Value-Added Producer Grant Program applications being accepted.

Value-Added Producer Grant 2023 application window is open. Program application period: Paper applications due May 16, 2023. Electronic applications due May 11, 2023.

The Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program helps agricultural producers enter value-added activities to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities, and increase producer income.

Independent producers, agricultural producer groups, farmer- or rancher-cooperatives, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures are eligible to apply for this program.

Grants may be used for planning activities or for working capital expenses related to producing and marketing a value-added agricultural product.

VAPG Application Link


Hearing for SB2273 - to provide funds for a rural grocery & food access expansion pilot grant program

There will be a hearing on SB 2273 on Thursday, January 26, 2023 at 3:15 p.m. before the Senate Agriculture and Veteran Affairs Committee to provide an appropriation of $2 million in one-time general funds to the Department of Commerce for a rural grocery store sustainability and food access expansion pilot grant program.
Please contact members of the Senate Agriculture Committee to urge them to give this bill a "Do Pass" recommendation:
Contact your own district senators to ask them to "vote yes" when this bill comes before the Senate.

ND Public Health Assoc Adopts Local Food Systems Resolution

The ND Public Health Association Supports Local Food Systems

The NDPHA has adopted a policy resolution in support of local food systems. The NDPHA supports the development of connected and planned local food systems that assure that North Dakota nourishes its residents with healthful foods and recommends coordination and collaboration among state agencies, tribal governments, private organizations including the NDPHA, and local public health to bring focus and resources to healthful food supplies for all North Dakota residents.

Find the resolution and policy brief at

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Farm Beginnings Course Now Accepting Applications!

FARRMS is now accepting applications for the 2023 Farm Beginnings course!
Apply by November 30 for free early bird registration.

Farm Beginnings is a farmer-led training and support program that provides an opportunity to learn first-hand about sustainable methods of farming and offers the tools to successfully launch a farm enterprise.

Topics include goal-setting, stewarding natural resources, finances and record-keeping, marketing, and more. You will learn from experienced North Dakota growers and connect with mentors who will help you sustain your business for years to come. 

Farm Beginnings is offered online. Classes are Thursday evenings, 6 pm - 8 pm CST from January 2023 through April 2023. Registration is $25 per person and tuition is $500 per farm. We offer scholarships and payment plans to ensure the course is accessible to all. 

Visit to register or learn more.

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FARRMS Seeking Sponsorships for 2023 Calendar

FARRMS is creating our first annual Farmer Calendar for 2023. We want to spread the word that local farmers across the state are growing fresh, delicious food for our communities. The calendar will feature images, recipes, and stories from farmers across North Dakota. We are seeking sponsors for the calendar from businesses across the state. Sponsorship levels are set at $300 for a banner ad on a month page and $150 for an ad in the sponsor pages. We’ve created a “farmers and partner organizations” sponsorship category at $50 so that the farmers and organizations with whom we partner also may be recognized in the calendar sponsor pages.

Click here for more information and a calendar preview.

To sponsor the calendar, visit our sponsorship webpage at  Here you’ll provide your business and billing information, upload your logo files, and pay your sponsorship. 

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Meat Processing Grants Awarded

from the ND Farmers Union, Farmers Union Minute e-mail...

USDA recently announced $10.5 million to expand North Dakota’s meat processing capacity. The Lewis and Clark Development Council was awarded $10 million to finance new and expanding meat and poultry processors. South 40 Beef, a beef processor in Mott, also received $471,525 to double capacity and increase workforce. 
The awards were provided through the Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program (MPILP) and the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP). The two programs are part of USDA’s $1 billion plan to promote fairness, resilience and competition in meat and poultry supply chains. NDFU supports continued efforts to expand local and regional processing capacity.

Following Up & Moving Forward - White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, & Health

Some of us were able to gather online via Zoom on September 28 to share reactions and connect with one another in between sessions of the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health (WHC). The WHC was an incredible opportunity that pulled together top leaders in government, nutrition, health, non-profits, and business focusing our attention for an entire day on actions to end hunger and improve nutrition and health. A National Plan was released, and nearly 200 commitments adding up to over $8 billion were shared by organizations outside of government. It was acknowledged how social determinants of health (access to basic life necessities like housing, transportation and healthcare) and racism have played a role in unequal access to nutritious food and to healthcare, resulting in people disproportionately experiencing chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. This conference provided first steps down a road and many people are joining in to walk together.
   If you are interested, but were unable to participate in or watch the WHC (or even if you were!), find some resources for you below.

* Meeting again

The ND Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics and the Nutrition Section of the ND Public Health Association invite you to an online gathering

Tuesday, October 25, 2022 at 2:30 p.m. We have set aside the afternoon from 2:30 – 5 p.m., and within that timeframe, an agenda will be forming. Please save the date and times. We will be strategizing at what our organizations can do and/or are doing to address hunger, nutrition, and health, and how we might work together.

    Topic: White House Conference - Recap
     Time: Oct 25, 2022 02:30 PM Central Time(US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
    Meeting ID: 826 4853 4444
    Passcode: 12345
One tap mobile
+13462487799,,82648534444#,,,,*12345# US (Houston)
Dial by your location
        +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)


* WHC Resources

Conference recordings for most sessions:

National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition and Health:

Stakeholder Commitments:

Main WHC website:

Imagine what we will all be able to accomplish together!

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Bismarck Job Announcement

Local Foods Coordinator Position
Bismarck Parks and Recreation District
Bismarck Parks and Recreation District (BPRD) is accepting applications for a Local Foods
Coordinator position. The Local Foods Coordinator provides leadership, collaboration and
coordination for BisMarket, Bismarck Community Orchard, Bismarck Public Schools Farm-toSchool Program and other local foods opportunities as needed or assigned.
The position will work approximately 20-30 hours per week average, year-round with more
hours during the months of April-October. The office location is in the BPRD Administrative
Office and may be a shared office space. The work schedule is flexible and will include hours
outside of standard office hours.
The position requires a bachelor’s degree in parks and recreation, education, public health,
food/nutrition/agriculture, or related field, with a minimum of one-year experience in a field
related to the job description. The position also requires a valid driver’s license and the ability to
lift and carry objects up to 30 pounds or heavier lifting with other employees.
Preferred qualifications include additional education such as a master’s degree in a field related
to the job description, and/or additional experience related to the job description and/or
certifications related to the position.
Starting wage is $22.75-23.75 per hour, and the position will receive four hours of vacation and
four hours of sick leave per full month worked.
Cover letter, Park District application, and resume must be received by 5:00 pm on October 27,
2022, or until the position is filled. Please submit information to Bismarck Parks and Recreation
District, ATTN: Recreation Manager, 400 East Front Avenue, Bismarck, ND 58504.
The job descriptions and application can be viewed and obtained at the BPRD office or at

Update for Sep 20, 2022 - White House Conference September 28

The North Dakota Public Health Association (NDPHA) Nutrition Section and the North Dakota Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (NDAND) are excited to offer a joint watch party during the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health (WHC) on Wednesday, September 28th. The WHC is being streamed online live, and the watch party is being offered through access to a Zoom “room” (connection). You may need up to 2 devices to take part in both at the same time. The Zoom Room will be open all day during the hours of the WHC; you can use the Chat Box function to comment or share ideas and impressions. You may want to drop in during the scheduled hours of break in the WHC agenda, which is from 11:00 a.m - 12:30 p.m.CT for a more interactive discussion.

It’s been more than 50 years since the first and only White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health was held in 1969. That pivotal event helped galvanize actions that included the creation of life changing programs like school lunches, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and changes to how we label foods.

The 2022 White House Conference will catalyze the public and private sectors around a coordinated strategy to accelerate progress and drive transformative change in the U.S. to end hunger, improve nutrition and physical activity, and close the disparities surrounding them. Please visit the Conference website to register to retrieve your live stream link, view the agenda, and learn more the WHC background and details.

The NDPHA, NDAND, and other like-minded organizations and their members are invited to our interactive Zoom watch party, which we will run simultaneously with the Conference live stream. The Zoom meeting room will be open all day (8 a.m. - 5 p.m. CST), and we encourage participation even if you are unable to join for the entirety of the event. According to the draft agenda, there will be a long break from 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. CST, and we anticipate a time for discussion for those joining the Zoom event, plus the opportunity to share comments and links in the “chat box” throughout the day. 

Please see below for additional Zoom meeting details:

We look forward to seeing you on the 28th!

Topic: White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health - Watch Party
Time: Sep 28, 2022 08:00 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 895 2298 1427
Passcode: 54321
One tap mobile
+17193594580,,89522981427#,,,,*54321# US

Dial by your location
        +1 719 359 4580 US
Meeting ID: 895 2298 1427
Passcode: 54321
Find your local number:

Update for Aug 16, 2022

The Northern Plains RC&D Council has initiated an effort to promote more local foods in Park River.  There are a few things they will be considering to begin in 2023.  We also have a couple of local food projects that are requesting assistance.  We are trying to arrange mutual times to get together and get that started.  Once we get through both local food and farm harvest season, more work will be undertaken!

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Update for Jun 21, 2022

NDSU Extension is a resource for farm stress and mental health, succession planning, becoming a SNAP authorized retailer, Double Up Dakota, disaster management, along with trainings, workshops and a multitude of learning and partnership opportunities. Your county Extension office is a good first contact. 


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Growing the Impact: Building Capacity for Statewide and Regional Food System Plans

NDLFDA is participating in a “community of practice” for local food systems policy councils in the north central states.

It is organized by Michigan State University’s Center for Regional Food Systems and funded by a North Central SARE Professional Development Program grant.

We are one of at least nine states participating including Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, etc.

The goal is to create a professional development community of practice among those who are working to develop food systems plans/charters in their states. Participants in food system plan/charter efforts – such as extension educators, farmers, food hub managers, local food council members, statewide food, agriculture, health networks and organizations, and local and state policymakers and agency staff – will increase their knowledge and capacity to conduct their work with an equity lens and build their networks to engage in cross-state collaboration to strengthen local and regional food systems.

Representing NDLFDA in this group are Stephanie Blumhagen, Board Chair (FARRMS), Jan Stankiewicz, (NDSU Extension), and Ann Olson (Strengthen ND).

This community of practice will hold four workshops,  with at least 1 workshop this year, and 3 in 2023. The primary audience is people currently working on or interested in working on state food system plans. Workshops could take various forms. E.g. farmer guest speaker, focused discussion, etc.

We will make sure NDLFDA members know about these workshops and can participate. There's a lot to be gained by meeting with peopel from other states doing the same work we are doing. It helps to know that other states face similar challenges, or to gain inspriation seeing what is possible.

Project leaders interviewed 1 farmer each from MO, KS, MN, IN, OH to ensure they were including a farmer perspective.

If you'd like to view the notes from our first planning meeting, including the responses from the farmer interviews they are here:


KX Conversations on upcoming market season

Had a chance to sit down with KX News in Bismarck to talk about our upcoming market season!

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FARRMS Announces Holly Rose Mawby Growing Farmers Grant

FARRMS is now accepting applications for the Holly Rose Mawby Growing Farmers grant program in honor of Holly Mawby, a leader in the North Dakota local food movement. 
FARRMS Executive Director, Stephanie Blumhagen says, “Holly planted the seeds of our local food movement and grew North Dakota’s farmers markets. I believe every farmers market vendor or local food producer in the state has been touched by Holly’s work, directly or indirectly.” She added, “Holly was a natural teacher and loved helping new farmers grow. We at FARRMS felt the best way to honor Holly’s legacy is to continue the work by helping local food producers succeed.”
  • This grant is available to local food producers in North Dakota & the Red River Valley.
  • Applicants may request up to $500 for expenses associated with production of local food.
  • Application deadline is Monday, May 23.
  • Find application and more information at

May 17th 2022 NDLFDA Monthly Membership Meeting

NDLFDA Membership Meeting 

May 17, 2022

  1. Welcome: Meeting called to order at 2:00 pm
  2. Introductions.
    1. Stephanie Blumhagen, NDLFDA chair, FARRMS executive director, Bottineau
    2. Ellen Knudsen Duffy, NDLFDA board member, River Road Gardens and Lightspring Solar, Bismarck
    3. Felicity Merritt, FARRMS Program Manager, Fargo
    4. Craig Burns, NDLFDA Vice chair board member, UND Social Work professor, Wana Wota Food Pantry, Devils Lake
    5. Jill Haakenson, USDA Rural Development, BFRDP, Devils Lake
    6. Claire Lowstuter, NDLFDA board secretary, Bismarck Local Foods Coordinator, Folly Hill Farm, Bismarck
    7. Ann Olson, Hilltop Farms, Strengthen ND Local Foods Coordinator 
    8. Karen Ehrens, NDLFDA Board member, Bismarck
    9. Francesca Zetar, NDLFDA AmeriCorps applicant 
    10. Mary Podoll, NRCS State Conservationist 
    11. Jan Stankiewicz, NDSU Extension, Bismarck


  1. Warm-up question: How are you welcoming the warmer weather?


  1. Local Food Systems Discussion (2:10 to 2:20pm) 

Adding an education component to our meetings. We can learn a lot from other similar organizations. Today’s learning comes from the FARRMS Sustainable Ag Intern curriculum.  

  1. Nourish Means . . .
    1. What we do as a local foods alliance is more than creating marketing opportunities. We are trying to nourish our communities. 
  2. Food Systems Diagrams
    1. Industrial food systems vs local food systems
    2. These systems don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Especially in areas like North Dakota where we can’t grow all of our own food.
  3. Nourish Food System Map
  4. FARRMS Sustainable Ag Intern lesson: 

What Are Sustainable Local Food Systems?


  1. Discussion on Mission, and Vision (2:20 - 2:35pm)
    1. Mission Statement - “What do we do and who/what do we do it for?”
    2. Thank you Ellen for organizing the mission statement conversation and survey.  

NDLFDA brings together local food advocates, producers, and consumers to co-create resilient local food systems, resulting in equitable, healthy communities. 

  1. Vision Statement - What is the vision we are working toward?
    Breakout rooms of 2 or 3 for five minutes, five-minute report back: What is our big dream? What would “resilient local food systems” and “equitable, healthy communities” look like? Please see Notes document
  1. ND Compass Article (2:35 - 2:40pm)
    1. NDSU center for Social research publication
    2. Article on NDLFDA by Karen Ehrens and Stephanie Blumhagen
  2. Update on Farm to School in ND (2:40 to 2:47pm)
    1. Notes from 4/26/22 Farm to School Discussion
      1. Purchasing local foods can be complex or confusing for schools. Both real and imagined barriers exist.
      2. Parents are contacting schools and pressuring them to buy local but don’t understand the complexities of purchasing local products (focus on beef).
    2. Funding for Farm to School Producer Education
      1. $2,000 stipend
      2. Available to people who attended training in fall of 2021. 
      3. Trainings have to happen between March 16th and September 30th. 
      4. Could it be used to develop a Farm to School cookbook? 
        1. Incorporate amounts relevant to schools, like how many ½ and ¼ cup servings the recipe makes. 
        2. Quantity foods cooking can be very different from cooking for a family at home. 
      5. Farm to School promotional video? 
    3. NDLFDA Farm to School Folder
  3. AmeriCorps Position Update (2:47 to 2:50pm)
    1. NDLFDA Coordinator 
  4. Member Updates (2:50 to 3:00pm)
    1. View Updates:

Meeting adjourned at 3:02 pm by Chair Stephanie Blumhagen.

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BisMarket Starts June 4th!

BisMarket is celebrating its 10th season this summer! There are so many ways to celebrate:

  • be a vendor
  • volunteer
  • work with us!
    • hiring for a Food Navigator/SNAP coordinator
  • Shop and support local farmers & makers!

April 19th Monthly Membership Meeting minutes

NDLFDA Membership Meeting     April 19, 2022

  1. Welcome: Meeting called to order at 2:00 pm
  2. Introductions.
    1. Stephanie Blumhagen, NDLFDA chair, FARRMS executive director, Bottineau
    2. Ellen Knudsen Duffy, NDLFDA board member, River Road Gardens and Lightspring Solar, Bismarck
    3. Felicity Merritt, FARRMS Program Manager, Fargo
    4. Craig Burns, NDLFDA Vice chair board member, UND Social Work professor, Wana Wota Food Pantry, Devils Lake
    5. Lucas Brendel, Apple Creek Acres, Lincoln ND
    6. Jill Haakenson, USDA Rural Development, BFRDP, Devils Lake
    7. Claire Lowstuter, NDLFDA board secretary, Bismarck Local Foods Coordinator, Folly Hill Farm, Bismarck
    8. Shelby Hazel, FARRMS Communications Coordinator, Minot
    9. Kristine Kostuck, ND Dept of Ag Local Foods Marketing Specialist, Bismarck
    10. Karen Ehrens, NDLFDA Board member, Bismarck
  3. A Short History of NDLFDA & Review of Strategic Planning Meeting in Carrington on April 11th, 2022
    1. Appreciating where we have been. History: (
    2. Slides from 4/11/22
  4. Strategic Planning Update 
    1. Thank you to Jodi Bruns for facilitating! 
    2. Continued Discussion 
      1.  Summary of 4/11 Meeting
      2. Take the Mini-survey and view survey responses 
    3. Accomplishments
      1. Monthly meetings. Ensure these continue and we keep building this community. 
      2. Website
      3. Making connections and sharing resources.
      4. Bringing together different voices
      5. 501c3 status
    4. Opportunities to help
      1. Ad hoc groups rather than task forces
      2. Tangible projects/tasks that can be shared among NDLFDA membership (currently being done by Felicity and Stephanie). 
        1. Tasks don’t always have to be done by the same person. 
        2. Thank you for volunteering! There is something for everyone. 
    5. Goals
      1. 2 paid staff
      2. 5 years of stable funding 
        1. Create plan for seeking grants. 
          1. Who will help?
        2. Decide what specifically we want funded. 
          1. Create messaging and talking points. 
          2. Develop clear mission and vision.
            1. NDLFDA board will gather to work on this. 
          3. What is the problem that NDLFDA solves? 
      3. Ability to respond to local foods needs. 
      4. Mapping our organization and creating a road map to navigate local foods involvement 
    6. Revise AmeriCorps position description. Consider switching to AmeriCorps ND position at 300 hours to be completed by September 15th 2022. Souris Basin Planning Council said we can do this; they will need to review the revised position description. 
      1. This person can also help coordinate volunteers to help with various tasks to benefit organization: Opportunities to help
      2. FARRMS’ Communications Coordinator Shelby (an AmeriCorps member) may be able to help with NDLFDA social media. 
  5. Update on Farm to School
    1. We are seeing continued interest across the state and forward momentum.
    2. New resource guide for school food service staff. Developed by ND Dept of Ag and ND Dept of Public Instruction. 
      1. ND School Nutrition Conference in Fargo this June.  
      2. More Farm to School videos will be coming from NDDA. One focused on local meat in schools and another focusing on education. 
      3. NDDA applied for the USDA Farm to School grant to fund a part-time Farm to School coordinator. This position will be promotional for Farm to School with the state. They will find out in June if they were awarded the grant.
    3. How can we support the movement?
      1. This year’s Regional Food Systems Partnership Grant due in May has a Farm to Institution track. This could be an opportunity for NDLFDA if we wanted to work on a specific Farm to Institution project. But this is not the only funding opportunity.
      2. What are the gaps in Farm to School in ND? What are we not able to do because of funding?
      3. Claire will help set up a meeting to reconvene the ND Farm to School training group and anyone else interested in being involved. 
  6. AmeriCorps Position Update
    1. NDLFDA Coordinator 
  7. Local Food and Sustainable Ag Grant Opportunities
    1. Reminder: Deadlines are approaching.
  8. Member Updates
    1. View Updates:
      1. USDA Rural Development: Value Added Producer grant is still open. Paper copies must be postmarked by May 2nd. Other specialty grants are happening for local foods too. 
      2. FARRMS: seeing a need for resources for “advanced beginner farmers”. Would like to collaborate with other organizations (ex: NDSU, Northern Plains Resource Conservation And Development Council) and hold meetings to develop curriculum. Mostly targeted to the small producers that FARRMS currently serves, but maybe include larger scale regenerative farmers. Contact Stephanie if you are interested:

Meeting adjourned at 3:05 pm by Chair Stephanie Blumhagen.

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Read the Timeline of NDLFDA's Development

Where did NDLFDA start? Where have we been? What have been the milestones along the way and who has participated in helping build our community?

View the timeline of NDLFDA's development. You can also see the slides from the timeline review at our 4/11 Strategic Planning Meeting

Update for Jan 18, 2022

The Northern Plains RC&D Council is in the process of wrapping up our work with the USDA Technical Assistance Grant funding.  We identified four communities in our service area who wish to make a more concentrated effort on developing local foods and will work with them in the future.

The Council also continues work on a local food mobile app, and expects to have a working model available by March 15th.

We have been providing support to the efforts of the Red River Council to develop a business incubator combined with a commercial kitchen in Grafton. This is an exciting regional project and if they can get funded may become a model for other communities in the region.   We have also been providing input to the local foods effort of Strengthen ND.  

The Council is meeting on Wednesday, January 19th to lay out our directions for the next one to two years to support our mission of using natural resouces to promote community development.  

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Virtual Cooking Class

Join FARRMS for an Introduction to the Mediterranean Diet for those of us who live on the Prairie! Karen and Duane Ehrens, longtime cooking course instructors in Bismarck, will bring us together online Monday, January 24 from 6-7:30 p.m.
Follow along with Duane as he prepares two recipes which will be shared with attendees. Learn the basics and health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet approach to healthful eating and how to incorporate local foods into this meal pattern.
Tickets are required. A suggested donation of $25/ticket helps FARRMS bring you more local food events and workshops.
Buy Tickets:
Find Facebook Event:

Update for Dec 14, 2021

Northern Plains RC&D continues to work on community outreach to develop a stronger local food initiative in regional communities.  To date meetings have been held in Langdon and Rugby.  Meetings are being worked on for Devils Lake and Park River/Walsh County.  

We are also continuing to work on developing a Local Foods Mobile App.  We anticipate doing some beta testing with producers during the month of January and then consumers in February and/or March.  Goal is an app that is completed and put to use in the 2022 growing season!

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Register for Farm Beginnings - Free until December 20!

FARRMS is currently accepting registrants for our 2022 Session of Farm Beginnings!

  • ​Classes are led by local farmers who understand that farming is not just a business, it’s a way of life.
  • We’ll help you craft a farm plan designed to achieve the quality of life that you and your family want.
  • You’ll be paired with a farmer mentor who understands the unique rewards and challenges of sustainable farming because they live them daily.
  • We’ll connect you with educational and financial resources in your community to help keep you growing.

Farm Beginnings is offered online. Classes are Thursday evenings, 6 pm - 8 pm CST from January 2022, through April 2022. Registration is free until December 20 and tuition is $500 per farm. We offer scholarships and payment plans to ensure the course is accessible to all.

Visit to register or learn more.

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Bismarck Farm to School- CLICK HERE

BPS Farm to School December meetings

Update for Oct 18, 2021

North Dakota School and Rural Distribution Challenges

School foodservice operations are facing many challenges this year. Among the challenges are staffing shortages at the local level, manufacturers facing their own set of staffing and ingredient challenges, distributors facing warehouse worker and truck driver shortages, all amid the food supply chain unsettling that first began during the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. For schools, this is resulting in outages and short orders of food and supplies. These factors are impacting schools (and other businesses and institutions that prepare and serve and sell food) across the United States, and have been covered in both the

New York Times, “No Veggies, No Buns, Few Forks: Schools” (pdf of article accompanies summary) and

Washington Post, “The cold truth about hot lunch: School meal programs are running out of food and workers”

Specific to North Dakota, a school purchasing co-op, North Dakota Educators Service (ESC) Cooperative, had facilitated a bid order for food items serving 100+, or about half of the school districts in the state. The co-op and schools received word that Cash-Wa Distributing would not fulfill the contract as of the beginning of November, 2021.


U.S. and North Dakota organizations have been coming together in response. Here is a summary of some groups’ responses:

  • The USDA is supporting schools through the pandemic and supply chain disruptions. They are not penalizing schools who are unable to meet meal pattern guidelines due to national supply chain difficulties, and have announced “up to $1.5 billion to provide assistance to help schools respond to supply chain disruptions”
  • The ND Department of Public Instruction, Child Nutrition and Food Distribution Programs, is meeting with other states and the USDA to inform them of the situation and learn about what other states are doing in similar situation. NDDPI personnel are providing technical assistance including a procurement assistance web page at: .
  • The ESC Co-op is trying to work with some other food service distributors to try to fulfill the bid and seek other solutions, and meeting with grocers and other groups across the states seeking solutions.
  • ND Department of Agriculture has increased information on their website,

producer guide:

  • School foodservice professionals in kitchens across the state are responding with creativity and determination when they find their food orders have been shorted or do not arrive, and are continuing free school meals for all students although many schools are short of workers.
  • The Creating a Hunger Free ND Coalition is bringing information and the chance to learn of and brainstorm potential solutions through meetings in August and September, and bringing network of connections to the table.
  • The ND Local Foods Development Alliance is holding calls and contacting local food growers who might have product, especially produce, that can be sold to schools. This topic was on the 9.21.21 agenda, meeting summary at:

Meeting recording at:

Organized a K-12 Food Supply Chain Shortage & Farm-to-School on 10.2.21, meeting summary at:

  • FARRMS Executive Director Stephanie Blumhagen is sharing information about opportunities for local producers, such as, in a high tunnel/hoop house, it can be possible to still grow short season crops such as radishes and greens. They have been sharing information to local food producers on disaster preparedness and the role of local food systems in pandemics and other unexpected, unknown situations. Informational webinar posted at Pandemic Response and Safety Grant: Their approach to this time and circumstances is to consider at an “opportunity for transformation.”
  • NDSU Extension Service is reaching out to local growers and has published an online Guide to Buying and Selling Local Food

  • ND Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, Lori Capouch, Rural Development Director, shares that the NDAREC’s, using knowledge and connections gained through working on viability of rural grocers, which also is impacted by distribution/logistics (, is bringing grocery stores into the conversation as a source of ordering food for schools. The NDAREC’s is also continuing conversations with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) on opportunities to utilize the postal service, who still makes deliveries to every North Dakota community. The USPS can be an effective option when transportation to a particular location is the main issue. NDAREC’s is also holding discussions with the Great Plains Food Bank for potential to work with their delivery trucks.

Karen Ehrens, summarizing the issues in role as the Coordinator for the Creating a Hunger Free ND Coalition


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Update for Oct 18, 2021

BisMarket finished its 9th season on October 16th. The Fall Vendor & Annual meeting will be Thursday, November 4th from 6-7:30 pm in Meeting room A of the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library. 

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Bismarck Public Schools Farm to School Info Meetings for Producers

Please contact Claire Lowstuter, Local Foods Coordinator, to RSVP or with any questions. email:; phone:701-955-8522. Thank you!

NDSU Extension Monthly Update

USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) provided a breakdown of information to ND DPI, NDSU Extension and ND Dept of Ag regarding the North Dakota specific farm to school census. 

71% survey response rate (aim to have closer to 80%)

66% of school food authorities(districts) report doing at least 1 (of 30) farm to school activities. We will work to get more information around the level of involvement in farm to school activities (i.e. of the 30 activities, % of schools doing 1, 5, 10+). 

48% of the schools are serving local food (nat'l avg = 50%)

16% of the schools have an edible garden (nat'l avg = 22%)

Avg $ spent on local foods = $3300 (regional avg = $16,000) [some local product is donated, which could skew the $$]

Will work to get the breakdown by food product (i.e. of the $3300, $$ spent on meat, F/V, honey, dry goods, etc.)


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Felicity Merritt hired as Program Manager for FARRMS

We are delighted to announce that we have hired Felicity Merritt as the new Program Manager for FARRMS. In this position she will develop and implement all of FARRMS' educational programs including Farm Beginnings, Internship programs, Mentorship Program, workshops/webinars and farm field days. Welcome Felicity!

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NDLFDA applying for RSP Grant

NDLFA is excited to apply for the Regional Food Systemes Partnership grant!

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Update for Jun 9, 2021

Most of our trees and berry bushes survived the first winter and currently seem to be thriving. We were able to fill our raised beds and get plants (generously donated by Legacy Gardens in Moorhead, MN) into the soil on 6/8/21.

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Cass Clay Food Partners COVID-19 Response

Cass Clay Food Partners COVID-19 Response published Description, summary, and recommendations of the response of food partners on the border in North Dakota/Minnesota published in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development.

“The Cass Clay Food Partners is a network of professionals, stakeholders, and residents serving Cass County, North Dakota, and Clay County, Minnesota, in creating a healthier, more just local food system. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cass Clay Food Partners quickly implemented a multipronged response that leveraged three critical assets of our network: (1) our unique structure, (2) our nuanced understanding of the social ties across overlapping networks, and (3) our ability to quickly pivot our work to address community needs. In this paper, we describe how our network re­sponded to both the challenges and opportunities presented to our food system by the COVID-19 crisis. We also provide tools and recommendations for other food policy and food network practitioners.”

full text article:

Questions? Contact Karen Ehrens,

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Update for May 18, 2021

Start of Community Garden, Garden Tilling Programs this season.  Farmers Market and accepting SNAP in planning/process.  

Questions? Contact Heidi Ziegenmeyer,

North Dakota Compass provides a look at the 3 phases of the data collection in their “Data Visualizations” project.

Overarching pieces of information from the survey specifically for North Dakota:

  • Food insufficiency was more prevalent in households with children than in households without children prior to the pandemic.
  • Food insufficiency increased during the pandemic.
  • Affordability was most frequently reported as a reason for not having enough to eat. 
  • Households with children were three times more likely to have received free groceries or free meals.
  • School programs with free meals were the predominant source of support for meals and groceries for households with children.
  • See the results for the Pulse survey “Food Insufficiency” measure here.

The American Rescue Act Plan of 2021 (ARP)

The American Rescue Act Plan of 2021 (ARP), signed into law on March 11, 2021, is a multi-faceted package that will provide assistance to the people who are still working to increase their lost or reduced earnings and dig out from debts that have been accumulating over the past year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ARA includes provisions to help with health, childcare, food, unemployment insurance and more.

Specific food and nutrition help provided through the ARP includes:

  • Extending the 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits through September 2021; 68 percent of these benefits are estimated to go to families with children. This increase averages to about $28.00 per person per month, meaning that there is about one million dollars per month more being spent on food in North Dakota.
  • Extending the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Program for the full duration of the pandemic. P-EBT benefits are provided for children whose households participate in SNAP for make up for meals missed when schools are closed.
  • Support for state agencies with matching funds to administer increased program demand.


Maybe the most remarkable thing about the ARP is the potential to lift children out of poverty, which can help our children achieve their fullest potential, and help our whole nation succeed. It seems that all people can agree that we would like a better life for all our children. 

Analysis shows that elements of the ARP including extension of pandemic unemployment benefits, extension of the higher levels of SNAP, the $1,400 recovery rebate payment, and that advance on the Child Tax Credit (CTC) have the potential lift 40 percent of children in the United States out of poverty. 

The CTC changes include making it available to people who previously earned too little to benefit from it, extending the benefit to children aged 17, and increasing the amount of the benefit from $2000 to $3000 for children ages 6-17 and to $3600 for children under age 6.  Based on just the expansion of the CTC in North Dakota, it is estimated that 4,000 children will be lifted out of poverty and 10,000 children will be lifted above or closer to the poverty line. Moreover, nearly all North Dakota children, about 157,000 (92 percent) will benefit from the CTC changes.

The additional money from the ARP will help families be able to afford enough food every day for a healthy and active lifestyle, and prevent families from having to make difficult decisions between paying for food and paying for rent or for medications.

Though the impacts of COVID have been severe, we are beginning to build back. But after going through such a trying period in our state and nation, we have the potential not just go back to where we were, but to get to an even better place than we were before.

    Questions? Contact Karen Ehrens,

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American Rescue Plan Act signed into law

The American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law. There are several channels by which food and nutrition services will make their way to people living in our state. Here are some key funding actions:

  • $3.6 billion to purchase food products from farmers for distribution through food banks, nonprofits, or restaurants
  • Increases the fruits and vegetables cash value benefit to $35/month (tripling the benefit) to WIC participants, and other funds to modernize technology and conduct outreach
  • $37 million for senior nutrition through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program
  • $750 million designated for nutrition services (home-delivered and congregate dining programs) within the $1.4 billion for the Older Americans Act (OAA)
  • Extends access to the Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program for children of school age for the duration of the health emergency
  • Extends the 15 percent increase (about $27 per month per person) in SNAP benefits for all participants through September 30, 2021, plus state administrative support and funds for expanding online purchases
  • Support for farmers of color
  • Support for rural areas of our country: rental support, refinancing help, rural hospital and community funds.

More in USDA fact sheet at:

Questions? Contact Karen Ehrens, Coordinator |

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Monitoring at the state level- bills impacting food availability

There is a proposed study of nutrition resources for public schools. Of interest to the NDLFDA membership in the current language includes "A review of the potential to use local and state products in school lunch programs and public-private partnerships." Find more information on the bill here. If interested in seeing this pass, reach out now to district representatives in the ND House. 

Monitoring bills and executive actions at the federal level. The large budget appropriations/COVID relief bill known as the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 passed Congress at the end of 2020. In ND so far, this bill has resulted in a 15 percent temporary increase in SNAP food assistance benefits through the end of June, 2021. 

Food insecurity is acknowledged by the Great Plains Food Bank: During 2020, the Great Plains Food Bank provided food for nearly five million meals more than 2019, and served a total of 145,587 individuals, which is more than 43,000 more than one year ago. Each of these increases are records in the long 38-year history of the Great Plains Food Bank.

Learn more: Contact Karen,

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Update for Jan 14, 2021

Working with FARRMS on BFRDP planning grant-possible food sovereignty certificate at CCCC. Prepping for upcoming year of community garden, farmers markets, corn maze & pumpkin patch. Working to become SNAP eligible farmers market

Heidi Ziegenmeyer,

Update for Dec 16, 2020

2020 has been an incredible year for all of us living at this time. When it comes to access to food, there have been many changes and challenges. From the Creating a Hunger Free North Dakota Coalition, we offer up our appreciation and sincere thanks to all the people whose hands have helped get food to people. 

CHFND's partners have recently shared how they are responding to unprecedented food needs deepened and widened by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic stresses. State agencies and nonprofit organizations have been working to expand and/or change services to deliver them remotely. More WIC operations and services are able to be accessed remotely. Federal funding has increased SNAP monthly amounts for many who receive it, and Pandemic EBT benefits were made available to families with children when school was not in session. School food service personnel have been adapting rapidly to meet the different ways in which education is being delivered, and meals prepared and served to children from schools are available at no charge with the support of federal funding.Senior meals providers received extra federal funding to cover additional costs of packaging for meals picked up or delivered. CARES Act funding was designated to help increase cold-holding infrastructure for food pantries and rural grocery stores and to help small grocery stores with online ordering. Farmers to Families food boxes and additional federal funding, along with donations from individuals and the private sector,  boosted amounts of food available through the charitable feeding networks that include food pantries and soup kitchens.

Needs not being met include transportation and volunteers to get food to people.  We are exploring how the increase in gardening and donations of locally-grown food helped people meet food needs. 

Questions? Contact Karen Ehrens,

Information sharing is a key role of the North Dakota Local Food Development Alliance. This page is a way to collect updates from the local food community and make that information available in a shared location. Here you can create and share updates, find information about upcoming events and activities, and comment or interact with other’s posts.

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