“This, too, shall pass.” That was the overriding sentiment during a panel discussion held by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers at the 2016 National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Ky.
“Now is normal,” says Todd Stucke, senior vice president with Kubota. “We have to manage both the good times and the bad.”
The panel discussed multiple topics, from equipment trends to technology advancements to the importance of advocacy in agriculture.
“We’re a small voice, but we need to get as much of that voice as possible to Washington, D.C.,” notes Jim Walker, vice president of Case IH North America.
No one company or individual can influence regulations, but change is possible through unified efforts, adds Stucke. Leif Magnusson, president of CLAAS Americas Region, expressed frustration over the empty theatre of U.S. politics.
“It has got to make you a little disappointed to listen to these presidential debates and listen to all of the rhetoric and hot air,” he says. “There has been very little from the candidates about creating jobs and supporting the manufacturing and agriculture industries.”
Magnusson was also quick to applaud the permanent status granted to Section 179, which he says will allow farmers to better plan equipment life cycles and replacement cycles moving forward.
Aside from political concerns, Linda Salem, president of Great Plains Manufacturing, shared concerns that large-scale agriculture is currently losing the “media war.”
“We’re looked at as big business,” she says. “The media is not understanding our role in feeding the world. Big farming is seen as a negative in parts of the country where people have lost their rural roots. We also know that our growers want and have made a lot of good strides to become good stewards of the land.”
As for equipment purchase trends, Walker speculates that used equipment values have found a bottom and will soon turn the corner. Stucke contends there is still a glut of used equipment on the market, and it will take a few years to iron out the situation.
Meantime, Magnusson marveled at continuing advances in agricultural technologies. He says the way farmers communicate will continue to evolve, pointing to the iPad as one recent game-changing example – “In larger fields, you could read a book because you’re not really driving your tractor anymore.”
Moving forward? Be wary of water management, according to Stucke. He expects challenges more common to California could spread to other parts of the U.S.
“If we don’t change anything, in 10 to 15 years, we’re going to be up here talking about how to manage water when it’s more expensive than oil or fuel,” he says. “In the Midwest, we don’t think about that now, but I think that’s going to come.”