The big footprint of the ag equipment industry

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) has released a study on the importance of machinery to the productivity of agriculture. The Economic Footprint of the Agricultural Equipment Industry assesses the progress of equipment and how it has enhanced productivity to this point; how big of an impact the industry has on our economy and what will be needed to meet the growing global demand in the future.

Charlie O’Brien is senior vice president with AEM, he cites his own family as an example of how mechanization has changed the productivity of the American farmer. His father talked about “putting the husking glove on and husking corn all day long.” At that time in the 1930’s, one farmer could husk about 100 bushels of corn by hand in a 9-hour day. “Today’s combines can do that in 7 minutes.” He notes that is a significant improvement in a very short period of time. Along that same line, the average farmer has gone from feeding 25 people in the 1960’s to 144 today. Because of that increased productivity, we need less than 2 percent of the population on the farm today to feed us.

The study also looks at the economic impact the agricultural equipment industry has on the United States. O’Brien says as the generations go by, there is less understanding of just how big the industry is. “In 2011, the agricultural equipment manufacturers had overall sales of about $31 billion.” But add to that the layers of business supplying the manufacturers as well as the sales, distribution, service and others downstream; “then we’re up to about $51 billion in economic impact.” He also notes while the industry did take a hit with the economic downturn in 2008, it was also one of the fastest to recover.

A big part of the economic footprint is jobs; 78,000 were directly employed in ag equipment manufacturing but there are another 118,000 working in upstream suppliers and 117,000 in the downstream businesses. “You are looking at almost 400,000 people employed by the sector. And these are high-paying jobs with the average salary at $67,000. “This is a highly-skilled industry and one that we want to attract very highly-skilled laborers to.” One of the challenges the industry faces is getting that labor force.

Looking ahead, the industry will play a key role in feeding a global population expected to hit 9 billion people by the middle of this century. O’Brien says plainly, “We have to be much more productive than we are today even as productive as we are today.” He says the equipment manufacturers are investing millions each year in research and development to make sure the tools farmers use “are in lockstep with what’s going on with developments on the inputs side.”

Part of that challenge is for the industry to not only meet the needs of the technologically-advanced farmers of North America and Europe but also the needs of those regions of the world which are still mainly dependent on hand-labor today. O’Brien says many companies are multi-national and are positioned to fill those needs and help bring those developing countries up-to-speed, “bringing the technology there as it is adopted.” He points to a number of North American companies which have already expanded into other parts of the world.

O’Brien says one of the biggest challenges the industry faces is the lack of understanding by those who make the rules, “legislation without full knowledge” is how he phrases it. That is one of the main reasons for this report which has been sent to every member of Congress, “and we are sitting down with each of them and going over the details.”

The Top Ten Takeaways of the report are available from the AEM website and the full report is available for purchase.

AUDIO: O’Brien talks about the study 18:30 mp3


New manure nutrient/management tool

The University of Missouri and Purdue University are developing an internet-based tool for manure nutrient management that is now available to farmers.  M-U associate professor and state nutrient management specialist John Lory tells Brownfield Ag News they have worked through the challenges of designing a web-based system for the benefit of farmers. He says, “It allows access to tools that used to be difficult to access. You used to need specialized software on your computer to draw a map of your farm. Now, you’ll be able to do that to through our web page.”

Interview with Dr. John Lory (8:00 mp3)

MMP Tracker

GeneSeek sees explosive growth

Lincoln, Nebraska-based GeneSeek, considered the leading commercial animal genomics laboratory in the world, has seen explosive growth in its business in the past year. 

Second-quarter results showed revenues for GeneSeek rose more than 50 percent from a year ago as the company’s new genomics tests for beef and dairy cattle markets continued to gain market share.

We discussed GeneSeek’s growth and the services offered with Dr. Stewart Bauck, general manager for agrigenomics.

AUDIO: Stewart Bauck (6:20 MP3)

The Superior advantage

Before Superior, Inc. began manufacturing its own grain bins, they installed bins for other companies.  Trevor Meier, Director of Sales and Marketing says because Superior originally installed grain bins from other companies, they were able to find out what customers liked and what they don’t like.

As Superior began manufacturing its own bins, he tells Brownfield they were able to incorporate customer and installation crew feedback into its grain bin desig.  And that, Meier says, gives Superior an advantage.

AUDIO: Trevor Meier, Superior Inc. (4:00mp3)

Getting to know Vermeer

Vermeer has been providing equipment to the agriculture and industrial industries for over 60 years.

During National Farm Machinery Show, Brownfield’s Meghan Grebner had the opportunity to sit down with Vermeer’s president and CEO Mary Vermeer Andringa and learn a little more about the company and how they are “equipped to do more”.

AUDIO: Mary Vermeer Andringa, Vermeer (7:00mp3)

New Holland Smart Stories

New Holland recently kicked off its new campaign, “Smart Stories”.  Dawn Pelon, New Holland Brand Manager tells Brownfield’s Meghan Grebner Smart Stories give farmers an opportunity to tell their story.

The series highlights how farmers are making their operations become more efficient, effective, and profitable and how incorporating New Holland technology is part of that.  In addition, it also shows how important the relationship between the customer and the dealer is to any successful operation.

To view the New Holland Smart Stories click HERE.

AUDIO: Dawn Pelon, New Holland Brand Manager (5:30mp3)

Buying used with confidence

Many growers are looking to buy used (or new to them) equipment.  Jeff Lentz, North American marketing manager for CLAAS tells Brownfield’s Meghan Grebner the Lexion Field Ready Reconditioned program allows farmers to purchase used equipment with confidence.

AUDIO: Jeff Lentz, CLAAS (2:30mp3)

Kioti tractors provide ease of use

National Farm Machinery Show was an opportunity for Kioti Tractor to showcase its latest innovations.  Rick Snyder, vice president of Sales and Marketing says all Kioti tractors are Tier 4 compliant and are easy to use for any farmer.  As they look to the future, Snyder tells Brownfield there are a lot of new models in the pipeline.

AUDIO: Rick Snyder, vice president Sales and Marketing for Kioti Tractor (3:30mp3)

Challenger tractors give farmers options

Jon Sloma, marketing specialist for AGCO says the new Challenger tractors give farmers opportunity to be more productive on their farms.  During National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Kentucky, he told Brownfield’s Meghan Grebner about some of the features and specifications that allow farmers to be more efficient.

AUDIO: Jon Sloma, AGCO (2:00mp3)

A sprayer designed for the farmer in mind

AGCO released their RG700 sprayer to their dealer network last summer.  Greg Milstead, Director of Sales for Application Equipment at AGCO says while the machine is only a 700 gallon machine – it’s bigger than that.

Milstead tells Brownfield the RG700 was designed with the grower in mind, to give them the ability to apply product accurately and efficiently and maximize their return on investment.

AUDIO: Greg Milstead, AGCO (6:30mp3)