Advocacy, Cybersecurity and Sustainability Highlight AEM Ag Sector Board Agenda



Ag Sector BoardAEM’s Ag Sector Board of Directors met in-person on Nov.29 at AEM’s Annual Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to discuss a plethora of important industry issues, including cybersecurity and sustainability. The agenda also featured updates from AEM staff regarding the association’s service areas, including advocacy, regulatory and progress toward the board’s priorities.   

Ag Sector Board Chair Bill Hurley, vice president, distribution, Americas for AGCO, called the meeting to order and welcomed Directors to the third and final meeting of 2023.  

Hurley also shared several updates on key ag sector initiatives aimed at achieving the Board’s 2024-2025 goals. These updates included:

  • 2023 Membership Metrics
  • AEM Regulatory Activities


AEM Senior Vice President of Industry Sectors and Product Leadership Curt Blades provided an overview of 2024’s Commodity Classic in Houston, highlighting that it is already scheduled to be the largest show yet. The conversation then transitioned into an overview of the continued integration of the Agricultural Industry Electronics (AEF) PlugFest into the show. On top of the typical PlugFest activities to test equipment interoperability, AEF will once again be holding its dealer council ,as it did last year, with the expansion to include dealer groups. AEM and AEF are also working to partner with Western Growers Association and startups to educate them on the work already being done by the industry surrounding interoperability and how they can become involved. At this year's show, AEM is also working with FBI and DHS to organize tours around the show and PlugFest to continue ongoing efforts to educate them on the needs of our industry.

Following the conversation around Commodity Classic and PlugFest, AEM Director of Agriculture Austin Gellings provided an update on planning for the 2024 Celebration of Ag on the National Mall event. In his overview he highlighted that, from an association and manufacturer perspective, the event has already surpassed 2022 in terms of participants. The event will also have tighter coordination of messaging as the various ag leadership groups work to build off the work and interactions they have been having since the last event.


AEM Vice President of Federal Affairs Kate Fox Wood provided a summary of relevant federal legislative accomplishments in 2023, as AEM continues to build relationships and build momentum for the industry, including:

  • Efforts to continue to remind lawmakers of the importance of passing a Farm Bill,
  • Continued efforts to implement rural broadband
  • Pushes for a year-end research and development (R&D) tax credit
  • A proactive approach to Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act (TEA).

Right to Repair will continue to be a federal focus for AEM in 2024, while also leveraging insights to educate legislators and lawmakers to promote the passing of a Farm Bill in 2024 with the inclusion of a precision ag program. Immigration reform will continue to be challenging but is an opportunity for 2024 – commonsense balanced approach, including border security and functional legal access.

AEM Senior Vice President of Government and Industry Relations Kip Eideberg provided an overview of engagements and accomplishments with state level lawmakers in 2023, specifically highlighting AEM’s work to establish a dairy innovation fund in Iowa and work to replicate that in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania next year.

Eideberg provided an overview of The AEM Manufacturing Express, AEM’s most ambitious advocacy initiative to date. AEM is poised to partner with member companies to tell their stories, change public perceptions about equipment manufacturing and engage with as many stakeholders as possible while making a lot of noise during a presidential election year when much of the focus will be on the towns and communities where the 2.3 million men and women of the equipment manufacturing industry live and work.


Topcon Vice President of Sustainability and Global CSR Michael Gomes gave an update on AEM’s regulatory affair engagements with EPA as it relates to spraydrift, Cal/OSHA and autonomy, and FBI/DHS/CSAN on cybersecurity. AEM continues to engage on these various issues and looks forward to continuing to build these relationships leading into the Celebration of Agriculture on the Mall. Looking toward 2024, AEM will further engage on these issues and reengage with EPA on treated seeds, as well in response to EPA’s renewed focus there.


Building off the update on AEM’s regulatory efforts, AEM Senior Director of Agriculture Al Melhim, provided an update on AEM’s strategy for meeting the Board’s goal around cybersecurity. In summary, AEM can serve in three main roles at the sector, company and machine levels: stakeholder education, government outreach and standards support. AEM has been doing this throughout 2023 through regulatory engagement, working with the Auto ISAC and other industry groups, as well as launching the cybersecurity council. These efforts will continue to be built on over the course of 2024 through a number of planned activities.


AEM Vice President of People Strategy Julie Davis reviewed AEM’s recent sustainability efforts and focus for 2024, including a proposal for Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) Supply Chain reporting through a uniform platform, simplifying reporting through the supply chain, focused on affordability and incentivizing early adoption.

Davis also discussed the “Off-Road Greenhouse Gas Protocol Scope 3 Category 11” guidance document. The document was created by industry peers to provide consistency in carbon emissions reporting for use of sold products. Having been approved by the AEM Board of Directors, AEM will submit this document to Greenhouse Gas Protocol in the first quarter of 2024.

Year-End Recap

Gellings also provided an update on the ongoing efforts within AEM that are working toward the 2024-2025 Ag Sector Board priorities. Building off everything highlighted in the meeting as well, the work that AEM has done with its various Ag Leadership Groups, AEF, Agrievolution and in thought leadership were all highlighted as well.

The Ag Sector Board meeting ended with Board members having an open discussion on key issues facing the ag industry and equipment manufacturing. This discussion centered on common themes such as ESG, sustainability, alternative power and other related topics.

The next meetings of the Ag Sector Board are the AEM Year in Review on Feb. 8, 2024, and the Spring Board Meetings on April 9-10, 2024, in Washington, D.C. For more information about the Ag Sector Board, contact AEM’s Curt Blades at   

For more AEM news and updates, subscribe to the AEM Industry Advisor.  


Advocacy & Legislation, AEM Updates, Agriculture & Forestry, Safety & Product Leadership, Sustainability, Trade Shows

For more AEM news and updates, subscribe to the AEM Industry Advisor.

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