Ag Sector Board AEM’s Ag Sector Board convened via teleconference on Tuesday, March 23 and covered a full agenda, one which focused on advocacy, regulatory and ag policy, communications, and much more.

AEM Ag Sector Board Chair Todd Stucke of Kubota Tractor Corporation called the meeting to order and welcomed Keith Johnson, P.E., of Kondex Corporation and Dietz Lankhorst of Krone NA Inc. as the latest member executives to join AEM's Ag Sector Board. Stucke then sought approval of the minutes from the Nov.19 Ag Sector Board Meeting. 

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

2021 Ag Sector Board Priorities

The Board reviewed and approved its priorities for the year, which are:

  • Maintain and grow AEM's global ag leadership position
  • Advocate for the ag equipment industry with policymakers and regulators
  • Strengthen and grow AEM's ag member business

Commodity Classic 2021

AEM Director of Ag Events John Rozum provided a summary of AEM's involvement in the recently held 2021 Special Digital Edition of Commodity Classic. Held March 2-5, the digital event offered three-and-one-half days of education, presentations from top agricultural experts and personalities, and networking between farmers and the companies with which they do business. According to Rozum, the event attracted more than 6,000 attendees (4,500 of which were farmers). Forty-nine states and 24 countries were represented, and more than 130 media professionals were also in attendance. The event also had 14 sponsors, held a trio of ag executive panels and two general sessions, and featured an appearance from USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. The next Commodity Classic is set for March 10-12, 2022 in New Orleans.

Illegal Tampering

AEM Senior Vice President of Government and Industry Relations Kip Eideberg, Senior Vice President of Ag Services Curt Blades, and AEM Director of State Government and Industry Relations Stephanie See provided an update on the association’s ongoing work to counter illegal tampering and defeat so-called “right to repair” legislation and outlined how it plans to realign its approach to ensure continued success on behalf of all of its member companies. AEM will continue to forcefully oppose bills at the state level, but will let the Equipment Dealers Association and the Associated Equipment Distributors take the lead in mobilizing local opposition to the bills. AEM will instead focus its efforts on working strategically with other national trade associations and industry groups on a coordinated national effort focused on defeating any and all legislation. AEM will continue to lead the industry’s messaging, earned media and grasstops efforts through its successful national public affairs campaign.

Ag Leadership Groups

AEM Senior Director of Ag Services Anita Sennett and Ag Services Manager Austin Gellings shared insights into how AEM is working with its ag leadership groups to provide targeted support to better serve specific product segments coordinate AEM staff and resources to address regulatory and other industry issues, as well as educate and advocate for specific product segments. Sennett and Gellings also noted that the leadership groups would continue to address Ag Sector Board priorities, drive member engagement and work to expand AEM's appeal to all sectors of agriculture.

Communications

AEM Senior Director of Communications Kate Huskin detailed the Association's Communications and PR department's efforts in support of the AEM Strategic Plan, especially the goal focused on building positive perception of our industries. She reinforced the need to expand the AEM spokesperson list to include member company leaders, and invited members of the CE Sector Board to participate. The effort is focused on building a larger foundation of spokespeople to help share member company success stories and showcase the positive impact of manufacturing on our economy and society. She shared a recent example of how Austin Ramirez with Husco was interviewed by Fox Business News and how the team would work with Board members on similar media initiatives. As follow up, she will send an online form to the CE Sector Board members to enlist spokespeople.

Machine Interoperability

Sennett and Darryl Matthews, senior vice president at Trimble, provided details on the work of AEM’s Ag Technology Leadership Group related to machine interoperability, as well as how the group is working to communicate and represent North American technology requirements and focus on the following seven priority areas:

  • High-Speed Machine to Implement Connectivity
  • Vehicle to Vehicle Communications
  • Automation
  • Sharing of Machine Data
  • Farm Information Data
  • Broadband Connectivity
  • Power

ISOBUS has been widely adopted globally as an evolving standard, and Sennett and Matthews stated the leadership group’s intention to collaborate more closely with the Agricultural Industry Electronics Foundation (AEF) on the development of high-speed ISOBUS in an effort to better meet the needs of North America and address compatibility. In addition, a formal recommendation was made to the Board to:

  • Support AEM-led initiatives for continued improvement of ISOBUS to meet the needs of the North American equipment market
  • Work toward the industry consensus that ag equipment manufacturers will take steps toward ISOBUS certification in North America for all ISOBUS “compatible" equipment

Government & Public Affairs

The CE Sector Board also received updates from AEM Senior Vice President of Government and Industry Relations Kip Eideberg, AEM Director of State Government and Industry Relations Stephanie See, and Senior Director of Government Relations Kate Fox Wood about the association’s 2021 policy agenda and ongoing state, federal and Canada advocacy efforts.

Eideberg walked the CE Sector Board through specific policy priorities, including infrastructure, trade, and workforce development, and reinforced how the association’s specific recommendations in these areas are intended to help rebuild the economy, communities, and the country in 2021 and beyond. He also provided an updated on the Advocacy Team’s ongoing outreach and engagement with the Biden-Harris administration around shared policy priorities and the association’s focus on building bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill for pro-growth, pro-jobs policies.

Turning to state advocacy efforts, See updated the CE Sector Board on the execution of year one of the AEM Five-Year State Advocacy Plan. She shared highlights from the Advocacy Team’s work in the 2021 priority states, reviewed recent virtual meetings between member companies and Governors, and discussed the advocacy work currently underway across 40 different states, including efforts on illegal tampering (“right to repair”), dealer distribution bills, and infrastructure investment.

Finally, Fox Wood provided an update on the federal advocacy efforts, highlighting how the Advocacy Team is engaging with lawmakers and congressional staff to advance the association’s policy priorities through a record number of meetings during the first quarter of the year as well as strong policy leadership and focus on bipartisanship. She also discussed the success of the March virtual Fly-in, which included three dozen member company executives meeting with 35 members of Congress. Finally, she outlined the 2021 fundraising goals for AEMPAC and a new and enhanced donor outreach and engagement program.

Safety & Product Leadership

Blades, who oversees the AEM Safety & Product Leadership department, provided an overview of mission and efforts underway of the Safety & Product Leadership team. He shared how the department is committed to promoting discipline and best practices for safe product design and use, and growing market access through safety, sustainability, and shared solutions. To improve surveillance of regulatory issues that could impact our industries, AEM has established several key initiatives including a Regulatory Affairs Working Group, a compliance database, a core internal regulatory team, and improved communications to membership on all safety, technical, compliance, and regulatory issues.

AEM Director of Global Standards & Compliance Jason Malcore continued the regulatory discussion by providing an overview of our engagement in China. He explained how AEM has been granted the Department of Commerce Marketing Development Cooperator Program award in partnership with the Engine Manufacturers Association and the American Society for Agricultural and Biological Engineers. The award allows us to secure an in-country resource to coordinate our efforts and build a china-based committee to monitor regulatory issues, including engine emissions, international standards, foreign investments, and chemical management.

AEM Director of Product Stewardship Jeff Jurgens focused his discussion on the work of the Autonomous Machines Coordinating Committee (AMCC), which includes representatives from all AEM sectors to ensure diverse perspectives. The committee is providing technical direction regarding automation, collision avoidance, and pertinent technologies, and preventing duplication in standards and development. The AMCC recently distributed a white paper to various International Organization for Standardization Technical Committees requesting a working group to develop a single standard across all sectors for terminology and taxonomy related to autonomy.

AEM Senior Director of Technical & Safety Services Mike Pankonin provided an overview of AEM’s involvement with standards development related to the 21 committees that work on topics, including general safety, autonomy, and functional safety, as well as our work with other standards developing organizations. He explained how the AEM Compliance Database, which is populated by AEM staff based on content from technical committees, enables tracking of compliance issues and standards development, upcoming rule markings, and governmental legislation relevant to our members.

Components Members Executive Committee

In other action, the Board also received a report from  Parker Hannifin Vice President Ted Bojanowski on the work being done by AEM's Component Members Executive Committee. He shared a proposal to develop a supply chain signaling project.

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 Association staff. The service area updates included:

Ag Sector

  • Ag Leadership Groups
  • Agrievolution & Global Ag Data
  • Ag Regulatory Policy
  • Environmental Benefits of Precision Agriculture

Joint Sector Services

  • Business Intelligence
  • Market Share Statistics
  • Membership
  • Safety & Product Leadership
  • Workforce Solutions
  • Government & Public Affairs

Joint Sector Committees

  • Component Members Executive Committee
  • Service Members Executive Committee
  • Aftermarket Support Committee
  • Sustainability Council
  • Futures Council

The next meetings of AEM's Board of Directors and Ag Sector Board are slated for Aug. 5-6 in Boston, Massachusetts. For more information about the Ag Sector Board, contact Curt Blades at cblades@aem.org.

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