Association of Equipment Manufacturers Forges Relationship with Farmers
The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) has announced that it will be playing a bigger role in agricultural advocacy (or, as it's more commonly known, "agvocacy") starting by partnering with The Hand That Feeds U.S.
Members of the AEM Ag Sector Board recently met in Chicago to discuss some of the issues facing agriculture and what that means for the manufacturing industry moving forward.
AEM is a North American-based international trade group headquartered in Milwaukee, WI. Membership comprises more than 850 companies and more than 200 product lines in the agriculture, construction, forestry, mining and utility sectors worldwide.
Dennis Slater, president of AEM, said that he considers the biggest hurdle to modern day agriculture and its related industries to be the lack of understanding in how regulations affect the efficiency and success of these businesses.
"There needs to be a concerted effort to communicate all of the good things we do here and the progress that we've made," he said. "It isn't logical to legislate an industry right out of business, but in some cases, that's exactly what's happening."
Slater said that if we are to remain competitive and able to keep up with a growing demand for food and fuel, we need to create policies that will attract the talent.
"Each industry needs its talent," he said, "but they won't come unless there's incentive. We're seeing a real change among the rural community—record exports and job growth are contributing to a really good story. What people need to realize is that the success of the agriculture industry usually means the success of other industries—from the rock to the road and farm to the table—there are so many opportunities in between."
After the meeting, John Lagemann, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for John Deere, and member of the AEM Ag Sector Board, said that machinery is just one example of agriculture's trickle down effect.
"Imagine what life was like before cell phones, Wi-Fi, and iPads. You can't believe you ever lived without them, right? Well, that's where we're headed with machinery."
The demand of one industry has sparked innovation in several others, and all roads lead to an even more abundant and available food and fuel supply. That is, unless those roads are riddled with obstacles.
Anti-agriculture groups continue to put pressure on Washington to regulate everything from dust to spilled milk. And an aging farm population promises to result in some major changes in the near future.
It's clear to those involved that 2012 is an important year. In the past year, American farmers spent $320 billion and turned it around to churn out $410 billion worth of goods. And, while people seem confident that we'll be able to keep up with demand and get America back on the road to recovery, they remain cautious going into the Farm Bill.
"If we don't get our story out there and communicate our value," said Slater, "we risk major, unsustainable cuts. And agriculture's trickle down effect that has created so many jobs in various industries will start moving the other way."