From workforce development and ag technology, to technical, safety and regulatory issues, a full agenda of topics was discussed by the Ag Sector Board at the Aug. 6 meeting in Indianapolis.

Ag Sector Board Chair Jerry Johnson, president, Farm, Ranch & Agriculture Division, Blount International, opened the meeting by acknowledging the election of new board member Brett Davis of New Holland North America.

“I was really proud of the engagement from the whole sector board,” said Johnson. “We had several good debates resulting in strong outcomes from today’s meeting.”

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

Programs & Services Updates:

Public Policy & Regulatory -

AEM Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs & Ag Policy Nick Tindall provided an update on regulatory issues with a focus on automated milking installations, the Renewable Fuel Standard, the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act, and the Farm Progress policymaker engagement plan.  

AEM Senior Vice President Kip Eideberg and AEM Director for State Government and Industry Relations Stephanie See delivered updates on AEM’s ongoing state advocacy efforts on Right to Repair, as well as a proposed public affairs campaign.

Customer Connections -

Senior Vice President Megan Tanel gave an update on the progress of several new ag events endorsed by the Customer Connections Task Force, as well as AEM’s integration into management responsibilities with Commodity Classic. The next Commodity Classic takes place Feb. 27-29, 2020 in San Antonio.

Core Services Focus: Technical, Safety & Regulatory

AEM Senior Director of Technical & Safety Services Mike Pankonin provided an overview of key technical and safety initiatives the department is facilitating, including ISO world manufacturing code administration, the R1234YF SNAP application, ag braking concept consolidation and standards facilitation, and updated standards for Automated Milking Installations. He discussed the work the AEM technical and safety department is doing to help members maintain market access and facilitate technology adoption while addressing safety concerns.

AEM Ag Sector Board member Darryl Matthews of Trimble and AEM Senior Vice President of Agriculture Curt Blades provided a brief overview of AEM’s participation in the recent Honor the Harvest Forum in partnership with the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance and The Aspen Institute. The event brought together top C-Suite and action leaders to collaborate for sustainable food systems of the 21st century. Matthews and Johnson represented AEM, along with equipment demonstrations from AGCO Corporation, Case, Deere & Company, Great Plains Manufacturing and New Holland Agriculture. The board evaluated the event’s ability to advance industry messaging on sustainability and at what level AEM should continue to support it.  

Tindall reviewed the June 7 Demo Day in Maryland and plans for the Aug. 22 Demo Day in Canada. The events are a cost-effective tool to educate government officials on what the industry is doing to self-regulate and be good stewards of the environment. The board considered ideas for future demo events to build on the successful model in place.

Industry Issue: Public Perceptions of Agriculture

Guest speaker Mark Poeschl, CEO of the National FFA Organization, joined the Board to discuss a proposed memorandum of understanding between FFA and AEM to address workforce development in rural areas, industry communications and member and alumni engagement. The FFA is the premiere school-based, youth leadership development organization with nearly 700,000 members from more than 8,600 chapters and over 1 million students participating in agricultural education courses. Poeschl noted the organization’s mission to develop members’ potential and connect them with increasingly diverse opportunities in the agricultural field.

Topical Issue: Ag Technology

Guest speaker Andrew Olliver of CNH Industrial and the Agricultural Industry Electronics Foundation (AEF) provided information regarding the current activities of AEF and how they align with the priorities identified by the Ag Technology Leadership Group. The two groups are in close communication to ensure the needs of North American equipment manufacturers are being met as global standards, conformance testing systems and certifications are being implemented.

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
  • Workforce Development
  • North America Statistics
  • Latin America Statistics
  • Membership
  • Agrievolution Statistics
  • Agrievolution Summit 2019
  • Global Agriculture Indices & Business Barometer
  • Ag Communications & Public Relations

Ag and CE Sector Joint Session

During a joint session of the Ag and CE Sector Boards, the following topics were discussed:

  • Technology and Digital Leadership – Darryl Matthews from Trimble and Senior Director of Ag Services Anita Sennett outlined the status and next steps of the seven priority issues identified by the Ag Sector Technology Leadership Group. John Somers and Sara Feuling provided an update from the Construction Digitization Task Force and discussed how they can drive more information sharing, contractor research on efficiencies and benchmarking, and driving adoption among equipment end users.
  • Digital Preparedness Study – Director of Education Programs Brooke Konopacki introduced the new AEM/McKinsey & Company partnership and study and encouraged participation from the board. The AQ20 Survey will provide assessment and benchmarking of a company’s readiness to take on advanced analytics and machine learning. AEM members interested in participating in the study should contact Konopacki.
  • Statistics – Vice President of Business Intelligence Larry Buzecky presented an overview of the AEM Statistics Data Quality Task Group and offered a recommendation for using telematics for statistics audit purposes when involving questions of location for first substantial use. The Sector Boards approved a proposal where a company with questioned data that has telematics data available and permission to use must confirm that location telematics data has been checked.
  • Technical & Safety Services and Regulatory – Senior Vice President of Ag Curt Blades discussed the AEM Tech & Safety programs and reviewed the succession plans and future staffing of the group. Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs and Ag Policy Nick Tindall provided an overview of the Demo Day program and future strategy for expansion. Sara Feuling also shared insights into expanding Demo Day to include construction equipment.
  • Annual Conference 2019 Mentor Program – Director of Education Programs Helen Horner introduced the new Annual Conference mentor and scholarship program designed to grow opportunities in all demographics, including gender, race/ethnicity and age.  She encouraged board leaders to participate by serving as mentors for member leaders who have not previously participate in the Annual Conference.
  • Policy and Political Update – Kip Eideberg provided a broad overview of the efforts underway to advance AEM’s federal policy priorities. He also talked about the current political landscape and highlighted AEM’s work in support of the United States-Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA).

The next meetings of the AEM Board and Sector Boards will be held November 18-20 in conjunction with the AEM Annual Conference at the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort in Marco Island, Florida. For more information about the Ag Sector Board, please contact Curt Blades cblades@aem.org.

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