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Where are most factory farms located?

Factory farmed animals are heavily concentrated in grower states like North Carolina, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, and Kansas, where the number of animals often exceeds the number of people in the most heavily farmed counties.Apr 16, 2019

99% of U.S. Farmed Animals Live on Factory Farms

99% of U.S. Farmed Animals Live on Factory Farms

ByMATTHEW ZAMPA

https://sentientmedia.org › u-s-farmed-animals-live-on-f…

According to a new analysis conducted by animal rights think tank Sentience Institute, around 99% of US farmed animals live on factory farms.

The new analysis uses data from the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture, which was released on April 11, 2019. The most recent previous data available was for 2012, which showed around 98.66% of U.S. farmed animals lived on factory farms compared to the current figure of 98.74%. The analysis uses EPA regulations for what constitutes a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) in combination with the USDA data on how many animals live on farms of various sizes.

“Most people are woefully wrong about where their meat comes from. 75% of US adults believe they usually buy humane products, yet only 1% of food animals live on non-factory farms,” said Sentience Institute’s Executive Director Kelly Witwicki in reference to a 2017 poll conducted by the group in collaboration with Ipsos Group.

global analysis conducted by Sentience Institute suggests over 90% of farmed animals worldwide live on factory farms.

Medium-large factory farms, or CAFOs, in the U.S. generally consists of 1,000 beef cattle, 700 dairy cows, 2,500 pigs, 55,000 turkeys, 30,000 egg-laying hens, or 125,000 broiler chickens.

The analysis notes that CAFO as defined by the EPA and what the public would call a factory farm are not necessarily the same. “For instance, a farm with 37,500 chickens or 3,000 pigs is only considered a CAFO if it meets certain conditions regarding surface water pollution, but farms of these sizes that don’t meet these conditions could still house animals in ways that would be publicly regarded as crowded ‘factory’ conditions.”

Researchers expanded the definition of CAFO in this analysis to include the following premises: (1) All large-sized farms, as defined by the EPA, are CAFOs, (2) all medium-sized farms are CAFOs, and (3) for birds, the largest three quarters of small-sized farms are CAFOs, (4) for mammals, the largest half of small-sized farms are CAFOs, and (5) farms are evenly distributed among sizes within each range.

According to the latest Sentience Institute analysis, the percent of U.S. farmed animals living on factory farms is…

  • Broiler chickens (99.9%) live on factory farms
  • Turkeys (99.8%) live on factory farms
  • Egg chickens (98.2%) live on factory farms
  • Pigs (98.3%) live on factory farms
  • Cows (70.4%) live on factory farms

Factory farmed animals are heavily concentrated in grower states like North Carolina, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, and Kansas, where the number of animals often exceeds the number of people in the most heavily farmed counties.

Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, which covers the northwest corner of the state, is home to more farmed animals than people—by a count of 13 million pigs and 37 million layer hens to about 750,000 residents. That’s approximately 17 pigs and 50 layer hens for every person in Northwest Iowa.

In North Carolina’s Duplin and Sampson countries, nearly 82 million chickens and turkeys are packed in among four million pigs. Both counties flooded during Hurricane Florence, covering the state in manure, contaminating the water supply, and posing a serious public health threat to residents nearby. The state spent $11 million disposing of some 3.4 million dead birds, left behind by farmers to drown during Hurricane Florence.

“Despite public outrage at the animal welfare and environmental consequences of factory farming, it is still the predominant system of animal agriculture,” said Witwicki. “The public has been able to push the industry to make some changes in the right direction, for instance by starting to move egg-laying hens out of cages, but we have unfortunately seen little change in the percentage of animals living in factory farms in recent years.”

According to PEW Trusts, in 1950, more than 1.6 million farms grew chickens for American consumers. By 2007, 98% of those farms were gone, even though Americans were eating more chicken. Broiler sales jumped by 8 billion birds (1,400%) over the same time period.

person holding chicken
Andrew Skowron

These industrialized growing systems weren’t just producing more chicken. With the help of feed additives, modernized processing plants, antibiotics, and crude disregard for animal welfare, they were producing bigger chickens at a faster rate so they could sell them for less.

Over the course of just 40 days, the chickens reach full size. This unnaturally fast growth cycle and lack of mobility take a toll on their bodies. Many develop lameness and as a result, they are in constant pain.

After the birds’ accelerated growing period—which causes extreme amounts of stress on their bodies—they are sent to slaughter. Tyson Foods slaughters an average of 35 million chickens per week.

“Between the suffering of these animals and the devastating impacts of animal farming on our climate and on the sustainability of food system, this is a moral catastrophe that we can’t afford to neglect any longer,” said Witwicki.

Around 95% of farmed animals globally are chickens and fish, and they generally endure the most intensive farming methods. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates 532,510,706 fish were raised on factory farms in the U.S. in 2017.

Over the past 10 years, global demand for chicken has steadily increased and with it, Europe’s poultry production centers have become overrun with factory farms. Although farms with more than 5,000 broilers barely represent 1% of the total number of broiler farms in the EU, they account for more than nine out of 10 broiler chickens produced.

Seven EU member states produced nearly three-quarters of all EU poultry production. Poland continues to be the region’s largest producer, representing 16.8% or 5.6 billion pounds of EU chicken in 2018. The UK is not far behind (12.9%), and France (11.4%), Spain (10.7%), Germany (10.4%), and Italy (8.5%) make up a sizable portion of the remaining chicken produced in the EU.

Inside chicken farms, birds live a gruesome life covered in feces, overcrowded and unable to walk, often with broken bones protruding from their wings. Many factory-farmed chickens never see the light of day.

Andrew Skowron

“When consumers think about factory farming, they appear to take psychological refuge in the idea of ‘happy meat.’ Consumers feel uncomfortable about eating factory farmed animals, so their minds justify animal product consumption by incorrectly assuming that what they eat was produced ethically,” said Witwicki.

“This illusion reduces the cognitive dissonance that results from caring about animals while eating them. The animal food industry has capitalized on this effect with a strategy known as humane-washing, which uses misleading advertising such as images of animals who look much happier, healthier, and freer than in reality.

Fortunately, there is rapid growth in the plant-based foods sector as well as a nascent industry of so-called ‘clean meat,’ real meat made from animal cells without animal slaughter, which could mean an end to factory farming within my lifetime.”

How many factory farms are in the US? As of 2017, there are more than 250,000 factory farms in America.

By one calculation, the US has around 250,000 factory farms of one kind or another.Mar 9, 2019

Animals farmed

41 Dreadful Factory Farming Statistics To Consider in 2021

How America’s food giants swallowed the family farms

Across the midwest, the rise of factory farming is destroying rural communities. And the massive corporations behind this devastation are now eyeing a post-Brexit UK market

by Chris McGreal

Semi-automated pig barns now dominate large parts of rural Iowa. Photograph: Scott Morgan/The Observer

How America’s Food Giants Swallowed the Family Farms-How Gov Subsidies  Keep Farmers on Welfare Sustenance 

Across the midwest, the rise of factory farming is destroying rural communities. And the massive corporations behind this devastation are now eyeing a post-Brexit UK market

by Chris McGreal

When the vast expanse of rural Iowa was carved up for settlers in the 19th century, it was often divided into 160-acre lots. Four farms made a square mile, with a crisscross of dead-straight roads marking the boundaries like a sprawling chess board.

Within each square, generations of families tended pigs and cattle, grew oats and raised children, with the sons most likely to take over the farm. That is how Barb Kalbach saw the future when she left her family’s land to marry and begin farming with her new husband, Jim, 47 years ago.

“When we very first were married, we had cattle and calves,” she says. “We raised hogs from farrow to finish, and we had corn, beans, hay and oats. So did everyone around us.”

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Half a century later, Kalbach surveys the destruction within the section of chessboard she shared with other farms near Dexter in southwestern Iowa. Barb and Jim are the last family still working the land, after their neighbours were picked off by waves of collapsing commodity prices and the rise of factory farming. With that came a vast transfer in wealth as farm profits funnelled into corporations or the diminishing number of families that own an increasing share of the land. Rural communities have been hollowed out.

And while the Kalbachs have hung on to their farm, they long ago abandoned livestock and mixed arable farming for the only thing they can make money at any more – growing corn and soya beans to sell to corporate buyers as feed for animals crammed by the thousands into the huge semi-automated sheds that now dominate farming, and the landscape, in large parts of Iowa.

Kalbach comes from five generations of farmers and suspects she may be the last. As she drives the roads around her farmhouse, she ticks off the disappearances.

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Barb Kalbach on the land she and her husband farm. Photograph: Scott Morgan/The Observer

“That’s the Shoesmiths’ place,” she said. “Two years ago, it had cattle, pigs and pasture.”

Now the land is rented out and is all given over to corn. A little further along, the Watts family’s farmhouse stands empty, its roof falling in. There are a few relics of the old farm at the place that used to be owned by the Williamses – an abandoned hen house and a bit of machinery – but the land is all corn and soya beans. The Denning house, on Walnut Avenue, was bulldozed after the land was sold and rolled into a bigger operation.

It’s a story replicated across America’s midwest, with the rapid expansion of farming methods at the heart of the row over US attempts to erode Britain’s food standards and lever open access to the UK market as part of a post-Brexit trade deal. Last weekend, the US ambassador to Britain, Woody Johnson, appealed to the UK to embrace US farming, arguing that those who warned against practices such as washing chicken in chlorine had been “deployed” to cast it “in the worst possible light”.

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Minnesota

Missouri

Illinois

Nebraska

Wisconsin

South Dakota

Rapid City

Aberdeen

Iowa

Des Moines

Dexter

Williams

100 km

100 miles

His message was greeted with anger by campaigners. Nick Dearden of Global Justice Now warned: “It is really an animal welfare issue here. If UK farmers want to compete against American imports, they will have to lower their standards or go out of business.” His words would come as no surprise to Rosemary Partridge, who farms in Sac County, western Iowa. She grew up on an Iowa family farm and then moved with her husband in the late 1970s to raise pigs and grow crops.

“In the past 20 years, where I am, independent hog farming just silently disappeared as the corporates came in,” says Partridge. “I live on a hilltop. I can see seven farm families, people my kids went to school with. They’re all gone now. My county has 11 small towns, and it’s almost like I could look back in slow motion and just see the businesses change and disappear. We’ve become poorer. Our communities are basically shattered and in more than just an economic way – in a social way too.”

How America’s food giants swallowed the family farms …

These days, factory farms are the most economical way to farm animals. Factory farming statistics show that maintaining industrial livestock is far more profitable than traditional farming. The difference in profits is millions of dollars.

But here’s the thing, factory farming, or intensive farming, isn’t the most ethical way to get meat to the market. There are many critics out there speaking against the inhumane way that factory farm animals are being treated.

In fact, you will find many organizations dedicated to protesting factory farms.

Here’s what we’ve discovered!

Top 10 Factory Farming Statistics

  • 80% and upwards of pigs are ill with pneumonia when they’re killed.
  • Dairy cows produce about 20,000 lbs worth of milk each year.
  • Today the chicken we consume contains 220% more fat than in the 1950s.
  • Around 60% of sows are put in farrowing crates while giving birth.
  • Globally, around 50 billion farm animals raised for consumption annually.
  • There are around 800 mega-farms in operation around the United Kingdom.
  • 94% of people in the United States feel animals raised for food should’t suffer.
  • In the United States, 99% of farm animals are raised on factory farms.
  • 7.61 billion broiler chicks were produced on American factory farms between January and October 2020.
  • Waste from raising cattle, poultry, and hogs has polluted 145,000 miles of rivers and streams in the US.

Animal abuse in these factory farms is by far one of the biggest concerns. There are concerns about waste and emissions affecting the environment. And health concerns, because of the drugs fed to these animals.

Keep reading to find out more!

General Factory Farming Facts

Numbers show that most of the meat in the world is now produced by factory farms. This means we have clear data showing us what the environmental impact is, and how the animals on these farms are being treated.

1. Animals on factory farms grow unnaturally fast, at a rate 3 times greater than if they were left alone.

(One Green Planet)

Animal farming statistics show this is because they’re selectively bred and given drugs that cause them to get bigger. For example, a chicken grows to the size needed for slaughter 55 days before it should naturally.

2. In 2017, there were over 1.6 billion animal farms on 25,000 factory farms in the US.

(Food & Water Watch)

The 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture data was released in April 2020 and revealed some shocking numbers. A dramatic increase from 28.5 million animal farms in 2012, in eight years.

3. There are more jobs available due to factory farming because factory farming is more profitable.

(ConnectUS)

Factory farming statistics from 2019 show that farmers can earn millions more than they would if they were farming more traditionally.

Laborers can earn around $12 per hour for a general laborer position and more than $18 per hour for a manager position.

4. 80% and upwards of pigs are ill with pneumonia when they’re killed for their meat.

(One Green Planet)

Pig factory farming facts reveal a very sad truth. Factory farm environment causes the livestock to become ill because of the lack of space, manure, and large amounts of ammonia.

5. According to the factory farming facts, dairy cows only rest for a short period of months between pregnancies.

(Farm Sanctuary)

Dairy cows need to be pregnant to deliver milk. As a result, they spend most of their lives pregnant.

6. Dairy cows produce about 20,000 lbs worth of milk each year.

(Farm Sanctuary)

Factory farming and animal cruelty facts show that the two are very closely related.

Milking machines and selective breeding for the purpose of producing milk often result in a swelling of the udder glands. This leaves the cow in an extensive amount of pain.

If you’re trying to imagine exactly what is factory farming, this is a good example of the treatment of animals in this practice.

7. Forced molting is a system where chickens are crammed together in the dark to encourage them to lay more eggs than they naturally would.

(United Poultry Concerns)

Molting is when the chickens replace their feathers. This process typically takes place over 12 months, usually right before winter begins.

Sadly, animal cruelty in factory farming speeds up this process. Molting can also be forced by starving the chickens for a period. Unfortunately, factory farming of chickens facts show will lead to them producing more eggs.

8. Piglets have their tails and testicles removed, and their teeth are clipped shortly after being born.

(One Green Planet)

The procedures are done with no pain relief medication being administered. Pork industry facts reveal the reason for the mutilation is to make it easier to keep many pigs in the same small place without them hurting one another or themselves.

There are no factory farming laws that prevent this practice.

9. Debeaking, tail docking, hot-iron branding, and dehorning are some of the painful practices that take place on a factory farm.

(Animal Welfare Institute)

These procedures are done with no pain management or anesthesia given to the animals.

However, there are high-welfare farming options that consider the animals’ comfort. They are just ignored with factory farming, the animal cruelty facts show.

10. Most of the antibiotics produced in the world are fed to factory farm animals.

(FoodPrint)

Over 80% of all antibiotics are given to farm animals. However, some of these antibiotics risk inducing harmful side effects, even in the humans eating this meat.

11. Sometimes, the chicken we consume today contains 220% more fat than it contained in the 1950s.

(Vittana)

So while the chicken we buy now may be twice as heavy as it was back then, that’s mostly because of the massive jump in fat content.

Global Facts About Factory Farming

Factory farming is in full swing around the world. Millions of animals globally suffer in cruel conditions, and the numbers are getting worse every year.

12. The barren battery cage was made illegal in the European Union at the beginning of 2012.

(Huffington Post)

A barren battery cage has a floor space that’s smaller than an A4 piece of paper per hen. Meanwhile, the chickens are forced to stand on a wire mesh floor, while being so cramped they can’t even stretch their wings.

Countries around the globe are considering these factory farming chicken facts. Hopefully, they’ll follow the European Union in eliminating this abusive practice.

13. Around 60% of sows in the United Kingdom are put in farrowing crates while giving birth, as factory farming statistics from 2019 show.

(RSPCA)

Farrowing crates are so small that they prevent the sow from showing her baby affection, making it impossible to so much as to lick or nuzzle it.

14. Globally, it’s estimated that around 50 billion farm animals are bred and raised for consumption annually.

(CIWF)

That’s a lot of animals born and raised simply to produce meat for sale. Statistics on factory farming show how prevalent this practice has become, it’s hard not to worry about how many animals have been affected.

15. Throughout the world, two-thirds of animals raised for food are factory farmed.

(CIWF)

That’s over 60% of the world’s population of farm animals being bred and raised on factory farms. Do you know how much of the meat you consume is factory-farmed?

16. There are around 800 mega-farms already in operation around the United Kingdom.

(The Independent)

These are large factory farms that animal activists criticize for being inhumane and unethical.

Animal Factory Farming Facts in the US

Factory farming in the US has done irreparable damage to the environment and the animal kingdom.

17. Dairy cows in the United States usually only live to 5 years old or younger before they’re slaughtered for their meat.

(Farm Sanctuary)

A dairy cow should naturally live for two decades or even longer. This just goes to show how short the lives of factory farm animals are cut.

18. 94% of people in the United States say they believe the animals raised to feed us should not suffer.

(ASPCA)

But, if you look at the history of factory farming, most of these animals experience pain and discomfort on a near-constant basis.

This includes the animals being mutilated from birth. This ensures that the animal isn’t damaged due to fighting or self-harm in the small space set aside for them to grow and live.

19. In the United States, 99% of farm animals are raised on factory farms.

(Plantbased News)

Studies show that only 1% of animals are being raised on more humane farms. Yet, 75% of Americans think they’re purchasing cruelty-free meat, eggs, and dairy. They don’t realize the factory farming cruelty that takes place.

One look at these statistics would show them why factory farming is bad.

20. According to the USDA Census of Agriculture, in 2017, between 98.2% and 99.9% of chickens were from factory farms.

(Plantbased News)

The 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture also shows that 98.3% of hogs and 70.4% of cows were from factory farms.

21. 7.61 billion broiler chicks were produced on American factory farms between January and October 2020.

(The Poultry Site)

Factory farming statistics from 2020 show that’s a lot more chicken than could be produced by a non-factory farm in that same time frame.

Factory Farming Global Warming Facts

Many factors affect global warming and climate change. But factory farming and the environment are very closely related. Global warming raises the levels of pollution, increases the number of diseases, and affects the wildlife.

22. Waste from raising cattle, poultry, and hogs has polluted 145,000 miles of rivers and streams in the US.

(ICCR)

Poultry industry facts show that factory farming and animal cruelty aren’t the only related areas. Unfortunately, nature suffers as well.

Water pollution statistics also reveal that close to a million acres of lakes, reservoirs, and ponds have been polluted, too. And over 3000 square miles of bays and estuaries.

Raising such large numbers of animals on these farms also leads to problems with land and air pollution, according to facts about factory farming on the environment.

23. According to the EPA, factory farming is the top cause of water wastage in the United States.

(PETA)

The creation of one pound of meat uses 2,400 gallons of water. This represents half of all the water the US uses. On the flip side, one pound of wheat only uses 25 gallons.

24. It’s believed that because of factory farming waste in Maryland and West Virginia, the local male fish are developing ovaries.

(PETA)

According to the factory farming stats, the run-off from factory farms includes chicken feces that contains the drugs used to make the chickens grow faster.

25. It’s estimated that 14,400 acres of rainforest are cut down each day to make space for cattle farming.

(PETA)

That’s one acre destroyed every six seconds. Factory farming and environmental statistics show that 90% of the Amazon rainforest that’s been cut down in the last 50 years is used in the meat industrial livestock production process.

There are concerns that the deforestation of the Amazon is connected to the extreme forest fires that destroyed such a large part of the rainforest.

26. Around 260 million acres of forests in the United States have been cut down to produce crops as food for farm animals.

(PETA)

The land is cleared to grow the crops needed to feed farm animals, which are then slaughtered to feed us. Livestock grazing is also a major reason that several unique species of plants are becoming extinct.

27. Factory farming and the environment statistics show that 70% of consumable freshwater is used for agricultural purposes.

(Sentient Media)

This includes water for the animals and water for the crops they eat. Only 1% of the freshwater available on earth is consumable by humans. Which means we’re giving most of our water resources to the agricultural industry.

28. In the United States, it’s estimated that about 40% of the emissions caused by agriculture come from farming animals.

(Sentient Media)

Factory farming statistics show that because of its extensive use of resources, chemical runoff, and large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, animal farming is one of the top causes of climate change.

29. Farming cows, whether for meat or dairy, produce the highest amount of methane.

(Sentient Media)

This is because of “enteric fermentation,” which happens in the process of digestion. Based on factory farming pollution statistics, this methane makes up over a third of emissions from agriculture in the US.

30. Globally, dairy cows produce 3.7 billion gallons of feces and urine every single day.

(Sentient Media)

The average cow excretes about 14 gallons daily, and there are about 264 million cows bred for milking worldwide. With the way this waste is sometimes stored, there’s a risk that it might contaminate healthy water sources.

FAQ

31. How common are factory farms?

66% of the population of the world’s farm animals are raised on factory farms. That number is even higher for the United States. In the US, 99% of all farm animals are born and raised on factory farms.

This means that traditional farming methods have long since been replaced in the first world with factory farming. Factory farms allow farmers to earn millions more, as opposed to farming in the way they would have decades ago.

32. Where is factory farming most common in the world?

Globally, it was calculated that there were around two million factory farms raising about 9.32 billion farm animals in 2017.

In the United Kingdom alone that same year, there were around 800 mega factory farms. Brazil and China are the countries where factory farming is the most established and common, but the US isn’t far behind.

That’s a lot of meat being produced by many factory farms throughout the world.

33. How much pollution does factory farming produce?

Throughout the world, dairy cows produce 3.7 billion gallons of excrement in a single day. That’s an enormous amount of urine and feces, which isn’t good for the environment.

In the United States, it’s estimated that 40% of the total agricultural emissions come from factory farms, polluting both the air and the water. These statistics show that factory farming produces an extensive amount of pollution every day.

34. Is factory farming bad for the environment?

Yes, factory farming is bad for the environment. For starters, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, factory farming is the top cause of water wastage in the US.

Besides this, dairy cows alone produce 3.7 billion gallons of excrement in a single day, and the methane that cows produce makes up a third of the emissions from agriculture.

The waste and chemical runoff from factory farms can create many environmental issues. We should also note that factory farming is responsible for an enormous amount of deforestation.

35. How does factory farming affect people?

Factory farming makes it more economical to farm more animals at once than ever before. This means that the price of meat goes down and more jobs are created by the factory farming industry.

However, when it comes to factory farming, facts on pros and cons, reveal that the cons outweigh the pros.

However, there are health concerns surrounding factory farming because many of the animals are fed antibiotics in large quantities, which can, therefore, end up in your food.

Drugs are used to make the animals grow faster and bigger than they would naturally, and these drugs also might end up in the food we eat.

36. Why is factory farming bad?

There are so many reasons against factory farming. First and foremost — it promotes and supports animal abuse. Unfortunately, it also affects the environment and people. It pollutes the air, land, and water.

Moreover, it fills our food with antibiotics.

37. What are the benefits of factory farming?

The major benefit of factory farming is that meat becomes a lot cheaper than when it’s farmed using traditional methods. Besides this, farmers can earn a lot more money from factory farming compared to traditional farming.

38. How many factory farms are in the US?

As of 2017, there are more than 250,000 factory farms in America. Unfortunately, their number keeps growing every day.

39. What really happens in factory farms?

As we mentioned, a lot of cruelty happens on factory farms. Animals are crammed into small spaces. They’re constantly hurt, traumatized, and fed hormones and antibiotics to produce more milk, eggs, and meat.

Besides animal mutilation, these farms also hurt the environment and humans. Sadly, there are no factory farming laws and regulations that would put an end to this torture.

40. How do factory farms kill animals?

Factory farms kill animals in the most inhumane ways. We won’t go into too much detail because it’s truly gut-wrenching. But, they often have their throats slit while still being conscious. Many are even thrown into boiling water, while still alive.

41. Should factory farming be banned?

Absolutely! A ban is necessary to stop all the torture, mutilation, pain, and pollution.

Final Thoughts

As an animal lover, these facts and statistics can be a little concerning. Whether you’re a dog person or prefer the feline species, the fate of all animals should be something to consider.

And looking at these rather shocking factory farming statistics, it should be clear that this method of farming isn’t the kindest way to farm animals. And yet, it’s the cheapest and most economical way to produce meat for the mass market.

One thing is obvious, though, and that is that factory farming is a vast industry affecting billions of people in various ways.

Sources

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