AEM’s Ag Sector Board met met in-person on Nov. 11 at the AEM Annual Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, focusing on ways to best support the industry and AEM ag member companies.

The Board received reports from several AEM service areas, resolutions were passed, and the meeting ended with an open dialogue on key concerns and critical issues facing the ag equipment sector in the coming year. Those issues help to establish AEM’s priority areas of focus for the ag sector in 2022.

Advocacy

AEM Senior Vice President of Government and Industry Relations Kip Eideberg and Senior Director of Government Relations Kate Fox Wood from AEM’s DC office kicked the meeting off with an update on the recently passed U.S. Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. The allocation of dollars for rural broadband was discussed, as was the need to ensure that the expansion included in the bill doesn’t stop at rural schools and hospitals, but also extends out into the fields. It was noted that the investment in infrastructure could potentially exacerbate existing labor shortages. 

Eideberg and Fox Wood also shared the news of the recently introduced Precision Ag Loan bill. This bill was largely inspired by the AEM-sponsored (and Ag Sector Board-initiated) Environmental Benefits of Precision Ag study. The bill is gaining support and will likely end up in consideration for inclusion in the 2023 Farm Bill. The Right to Repair movement has gained significant momentum and broad support in the consumer appliances space in Canada. AEM members fully support the right of farmers to repair equipment, but not to modify. Tampering with software could lead to serious safety issues as well as regulatory non-compliance and environmental concerns.

Market Statistics

In part to facilitate better communication and support of the environmental benefits of precision ag technologies and other relevant issues, the Board resolved to allow for the use of aggregate data from AEM market statistics programs when beneficial to the sector.  For example, aggregate data on precision ag equipment sales combined with data on fuel usage could be used to support the fact that precision ag equipment reduces the carbon footprint of agriculture. 

The Board received an overview of 2021 AEM ag sector accomplishments and also recognized the passing of long-time AEM and industry leader Gary MacDonald of MacDon Industries. His legacy will be remembered, and he is missed. New Holland’s Brett Davis and CLAAS’s Leif Magnusson, both completing their service on the Board, were thanked for their years of service.

2022 Challenges

Looking ahead to 2022, the meeting ended with Board members sharing “what keeps them up at night.” It was no surprise that supply chain and labor issues stood out as challenges faced by members across the Board. Multiple example relating to unique challenges companies are facing in these two areas were shared to reinforce this being a critical issue.   

Beyond supply chain and labor, the escalation of regulations being developed in response to emerging technologies like autonomy as well as to a heightened push for sustainability was noted. Farmers and ag equipment manufacturers always have and continue to strive for optimum sustainability. New technologies developed by manufacturers have increased yields while reducing our carbon footprint. Autonomous technologies will serve to resolve some of the labor challenges faced by farmers today. AEM will continue to collaborate with and educate regulatory agencies and lawmakers to ensure their awareness of the sustainable practices and technologies already in place as well as those under development.

A continued focus on standardization and interoperability of all agriculture equipment brands was also mentioned as a focus area. And finally, the continued support of important ag industry issues like commodity demand through biofuels and trade were noted along with growing concerns about cybersecurity as key challenges in the coming year.

The above areas of concern will be itemized as focal points falling under the proposed 2022 Ag Sector Board priorities to be finalized in March:

  1. Maintain and grow AEM’s global ag leadership position
  2. Advocate for the Ag Equipment industry with regulators and policy makers
  3. Strengthen and grow AEM ag member business
  4. Promote agriculture as a sustainability and climate solution

The next meetings of AEM's Board of Directors and Ag and CE Sector Boards are scheduled for March 15-16 in Washington, DC. For more information about the Ag Sector Board, contact AEM's Curt Blades at cblades@aem.org

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