From customer connections and statistics, to public perceptions of agriculture, a full agenda of topics was discussed by the Ag Sector Board at the March 4 meeting in Washington, D.C., held at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel.

Ag Sector Board Chair Jerry Johnson, president, Farm, Ranch & Agriculture Division, Blount International, opened the meeting by welcoming new board members Leah Olson, CEO at Dot Technology Corp. and SeedMaster Manufacturing Inc., Jeremy Yoder, Executive VP/COO at DISTek Integration and Viren Popli, president and CEO, Mahindra USA Inc.

“The Ag Sector Board has been an evolution,” said Johnson. “I was very pleased with the engagement and participation among board members today. One thing I’m really looking forward to with the new structure is having deeper conversations on core services and continuing to drive more value for our association members.”

During the meeting, the Ag Sector Board covered the following:

Programs & Services Update:

Leadership Groups - AEM Senior Director, Ag Services, Anita Sennett shared an update on the eight leadership groups and two task forces established to connect like-minded executives who manufacture similar products, or are impacted by similar issues.

Sennett outlined the objectives and priorities of the newly formed ag technology leadership group, which include high-speed machine-to-implement connectivity, vehicle-to-vehicle communications, automation/autonomous vehicles, sharing of machine data, farm information data, broadband connectivity and power-high voltage. The group will continue to monitor these issues and engage as needed to ensure that any standards meet North American requirements and the North American perspective is represented.

AEM Senior Vice President Curt Blades briefed the group on the results of the recent Commodity Classic trade show, as well as developing programs as part of the customer connections task force. To aid in strategy development, AEM completed three research studies over the past year, including macro trends and the future of ag, understanding the manufacturer-farmer relationship and the customer decision journey. The group will meet again next month to build a directional consensus on how foster meaningful connections with customers and stakeholders and provide positive ROI for members participating in efforts.

Agrievolution Alliance – Sennett also provided an update on the Agrievolution global data available to members including the tractor sales index, barometer and statistics program indexes.

In addition, she highlighted the upcoming Seventh World Summit on Agriculture Machinery, slated for Oct. 1-2, 2019 in Spain, hosted by alliance member ANSEMAT. Topics include the mechanization of specialty crops and education and training in the digital era.

Public Policy & Regulatory – AEM Senior Director of Government and Industry Relations Nick Tindall and AEM Vice President, Public Affairs & Advocacy Kip Eideberg delivered updates on key ag legislative priorities and actions, including trade, the Farm Bill, renewable fuel standards, rural broadband and other regulations.

In addition, AEM Director for State Government and Industry Relations Stephanie See shared an update on state issues, including state dealer bills and right to repair.

Topical Issue: Commodity Classic

Blades, along with Senior Vice President Megan Tanel, led an in-depth discussion on the renegotiated terms of the relationship with Commodity Classic. While Commodity Classic remains farmer-owned, AEM is an official show partner of the show and holds a position on the management committee with input into strategy, management, and the future direction of the show, as well as participation in net revenue based on performance.

Held Feb. 28 – March 2 in Orlando, Florida, the 2019 edition of Commodity Classic was host to over 9,100 attendees and exhibitors. The farmer attendance figure ranks second highest in the 23-year history of Commodity Classic, while total attendance ranks third. Over 400 exhibitors took over 210,000 net square feet of trade show exhibit space, an increase from the 2018 show in Anaheim.

Board members provided feedback on successes and opportunities for improvement based on their experience with Commodity Classic and other ag industry events. The group established priorities for improving AEM and AEM member value at the show going forward.

Core Services Focus: Statistics

AEM Vice President of Statistics Larry Buzecky provided a general overview of AEM statistics services, explaining how members participate and the value they receive from our programs. He gave a high-level review of the relationship and responsibility of AEM-owned Hargrove & Associates in providing and analyzing data.

New AEM Senior Director of Statistics Mike Lietke was introduced to the Board, and he provided insights based on his experience working in the motorcycle industry, the types of statistics that industry used to make decisions, and new directions AEM statistics could go in the future.

The Board continued the conversation by discussing parallel industry trends, product segmentation and disclosure and reporting for new participants.

Industry Issue: Public Perceptions of Agriculture

Guest speaker Erin Fitzgerald, CEO, U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) joined the Board to discuss public perceptions of agriculture and consumer concerns about the food supply chain. Fitzgerald suggested that farmers are the conduit to bring the rest of the industry together to lead the conversation on sustainability and stewardship.

She also shared the organization’s updated mission and strategy built on industry research and proven tactics of communication to influencers. The organization is committed to creating a leadership space to talk about industry issues, provide a point of view of agriculture’s role in enabling and providing ecosystems services, and developing shared resources for the industry to speak with one voice.

Consent Agenda:

Prior to the meeting the Board received reports on each of the following AEM service areas that outlined the latest updates and actions led by AEM staff. The service area updates included:

  • Ag Leadership Groups
  • AEF
  • Workforce Development
  • Machine Chipping
  • North American Stats
  • Latin American Stats
  • Membership
  • Tech & Safety
  • AEM’s 125th Anniversary

The next meetings of the AEM Board and Sector Boards will be held Aug. 6-7 in Indianapolis. For more information about the Ag Sector Board, please contact Curt Blades cblades@aem.org.

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