By Leif Magnusson, 2016 AEM Chair and President, CLAAS Global Sales Americas Inc.

It has been a great honor to serve as AEM Chair during a busy, eventful and productive year for your Association.

Those of you who attended the recent AEM Annual Conference heard my report on the many priorities and goals that, with your help, we achieved in the core service areas of exhibitions, advocacy and statistics.

Among those achievements – and one in which we should all take great pride – is this year’s I Make America tour program. During this well-coordinated effort that stretched from early spring to mid-fall, member companies hosted a record-breaking 35 events!

Many, including the one held at my company in October, brought elected officials from the federal, state and local level to our facilities to meet with management and employees and let them see first-hand how equipment manufacturing benefits our nation’s economy.

As a grassroots campaign to promote pro-manufacturing policies, I feel that I Make America has no equal, and to those members that took part in this year’s tour program, I want to offer my sincere thanks for your time and effort on behalf of our industry.

I was also proud to participate in the Rural Infrastructure Summit, held in Ames, Iowa, just prior to this year’s Farm Progress Show. As part of our Infrastructure Vision 2050 initiative, the summit was an opportunity for AEM to highlight the need to maintain and update our infrastructure – whether it be roads, rail or waterways – in order to bring products to market.

I believe farm equipment manufacturers and farmers will be able to meet the demand of higher productivity to feed a growing world population. But will the infrastructure in 2050 be able to transport 50 percent more grain and livestock to domestic and export markets? That’s the question AEM posed to a large group of influential thought-leaders.

Finally, I am extremely pleased with the work done by a task force of volunteer leaders – your peers, working with AEM staff and an industry consultant – to develop a new strategic plan. I especially want to thank 2017 AEM Chair Mike Haberman, acting in his capacity as 2016 Vice Chair, for his leadership in driving this important work.

Thanks to Mike and his team, the new strategic plan challenges us to recognize and respond to changes in our industry, in technology and other forces that are affecting and disrupting our businesses. This is critical to maintaining AEM’s relevance in an ever-changing business environment and ensuring our future success.

Thank you again for your support this past year. If your organization is not fully engaged in the programs and services offered by AEM, I urge you to do so. There is so much more we can accomplish as an industry if we all work together.