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Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) reports:

by Dennis Slater, AEM President

It's hard to believe it's already the start of 2014. With every new year, it's important to reflect on how we can continue to improve our Association in service of our members' evolving needs.

For the past several years, we have been working to strengthen our advocacy programs and build closer relationships with elected officials who support pro-equipment manufacturing policies.

We've made substantial progress in the public policy arena, but there is more work to be done. This is a critical year for issues that will have significant impact on our industry, and AEM is focused on investing strategically to become the leading advocacy voice for equipment manufacturers on both state and national levels.

A good example is our greater involvement in state and local issues that affect our member companies' business environments. In 2013, as the New Hampshire state legislature seemed poised to pass a new state dealer law that would negatively impact equipment manufacturers, AEM led the charge in lobbying against this harmful action. In our home state of Wisconsin, AEM continues in the current legislative session to actively inform elected officials on how proposed roading regulations would affect the use of agriculture equipment.

These issues, no matter if they affect one local area or many, ultimately play a role in our industry's ability to operate and grow, and have the potential to set precedent across the country. That is why we see value in investing time and resources to advocate for policies that protect equipment manufacturers and member companies.

2014 will also be a major year for pro-manufacturing policies on the federal level. A new Farm Bill needs to be passed, and we are also actively working with Members of Congress and their staffs to see that reauthorization is concluded in conference without further delay. And, as part of the Fuels America coalition, AEM is actively lobbying the EPA and the Administration to leave the renewable fuel standard at its current level.

As MAP-21 is set to expire, passing a fully funded long-term highway bill is a top priority. AEM will be strategizing and encouraging participation from the grassroots level up to ensure that our voices are heard and Congress recognizes the importance of investing in America's infrastructure. And we are joining with many transportation coalitions to combine resources to achieve the goal of a comprehensive surface transportation bill in 2014.

Equipment manufacturers' competitiveness in the global economy requires sound trade policy by our government officials here at home, and AEM is deeply engaged in lobbying on behalf of our members' interests in the U.S. trade agenda. 2014 will be a pivotal year for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation, as Congress must approve this before to taking up the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreements - both of which are major priorities for our industry. AEM is spending a considerable amount of time advocating for this timely and important legislation before Congress.

With the successful integration of all AEM domestic advocacy efforts under the I Make America brand, we will continue to mobilize on our grassroots base of supporters to continue to sound the drum for pro-equipment manufacturing policies. With nearly 30,000 supporters, I Make America is already making a difference, but we will intensify our efforts and reach out to member companies and their employees to encourage new and increased participation. None of our advocacy efforts would be possible without the involvement of our companies and their dedicated employees; we continue to reach out to engage each employee.

In addition to grassroots efforts, this year we will further AEM's credentials as a leading industry expert among elected officials, staffers on Capitol Hill and in the Administration, and the Beltway media through the use of substantive industry economic information and policy analysis to support our public policy positions. AEM is committed to being the go-to source on policies and their specific effect on the ability of equipment manufacturers to do business in the United States and around the world.

But there's even more to think about this year. 2014 is also an election year, meaning directing our AEMPAC donations to candidates who will put manufacturing and pro-business policies ahead of their own political ambitions will also be a prominent focus in advocacy as well. While Members of Congress spend extra time in their districts as part of their campaigns, we will use the opportunity to invite them to member company facilities and meetings to experience first-hand the importance of the equipment manufacturing industry to the U.S. economy and local communities.

We certainly have a full plate this year, and no shortage of important legislative decisions ahead. To make us even more effective, we are starting a new program - AEM Advocates - designed to encourage and help member companies to engage with their elected officials and the public policies that affect them. AEM Advocates consists of Gold, Silver and Bronze level activities, with the intention to show that no matter how small the task, our member companies have the ability to help grow our voice exponentially. I ask that you visit our tool kit and learn the easy things your company can do to help us make a difference.

Our advocacy efforts will build on the progress made in 2013 to have our industry voice heard to represent the interests of equipment manufacturers and help our nation prosper. We all know how important these issues are to the future of manufacturing, and by joining together in our advocacy we have a real opportunity to represent and to grow our industry in a way that will make a difference.

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