Watch and listen to this interview here.

One of the highlights of our recent visit to Washington, DC was the opportunity to meet with colleagues from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), including Kate Fox Wood, AEM’s Vice President of Federal Affairs. She shared valuable insights on legislative matters such as the Farm & Infrastructure bills, the Careers Act, and other initiatives AEM is pushing forward through November.

Fox Wood says, “One thing we’re always pushing for is the reauthorization of the farm bill that is due. They had to extend it again from 2018. We’re up against a September deadline to try to get a new Farm Bill passed. It’s going to set the tone for ag policy for the next 5 years, potentially.” She adds, “We’re talking to policymakers about the need to get something done in a timely and bipartisan manner.”

Green Mountain Lion Corporation’s President, Kristie Stern, asked Fox Wood about the status of infrastructure funds, saying, “I’ve heard some people in the industry don’t feel like the money has trickled down to the projects as much as they thought it would. Is that a correct perception or are there other obstacles?”

Fox Wood explains, “I don’t think it’s a perception at all. What you’re talking about is a massive source of funding that needs to accurately get down to projects in a way that is not wasteful.” She continues, “It just takes time for all of this to happen. Plus, a lot of that money is based on a fiscal year cycle that state departments of transportation follow, so they’re only going to get a set amount to tackle the projects that they can tackle at that time.”

Fox Wood expands, “I think the other thing we continue to hear is the workforce issue. We have all this money but frankly, we don’t have the workforce needed to build roads, build bridges, install fiber optics for broadband—things of that nature. There’s more to the story than just, the money is not flowing.” She concludes, “I would just say, be patient, pay attention to notices, talk to your local authorities who own those roads and bridges. It will happen, but we certainly don’t want something to be wasteful. The minute it starts flowing and is wasteful, people will pivot to that narrative. We actually have a highway bill coming up for reauthorization in 2026. We certainly want the narrative for the infrastructure bill to be a positive one so people aren’t scared to spend money on infrastructure.”

Regarding the Careers Act, Kristie had been working hard with AEM to get it passed. Fox Wood says, “It’s currently still a standalone bill in the House. It’s being sponsored by our friends Nick Langworthy from New York and Jill Tokuda from Hawaii. It’s a great combination bipartisan bill; we’re just waiting for a Senate sponsor. There is some debate on whether or not it’s going to be put in the Farm Bill because it does relate to a USDA program. It’s gotten a lot of positive support, so even if it doesn’t get included in the Farm Bill reauthorization, it’s such a good concept.”

When it comes to the bill’s evolution and whether or not it could pass on its own, Kate says, “It’s an update to a rural workforce development program that was in place in 2018. We’ve learned a ton about what career pathways look like for rural communities and rural employers. I think it could be passed as a standalone. We really appreciate your support and Green Mountain Lion’s support with that effort. It’s an incredibly important issue and should be a slam dunk.”

Moving on to the Celebration of Construction/Agriculture on the National Mall events, Kate says the evolution of it is quite a story. She begins, “We attempted to put it together in 2020 but COVID postponed those plans. Then we went back after it in 2021 but the world wasn’t quite ready for mass gatherings at that point. In 2022, we saw a window of opportunity to finally launch this ‘On the Mall’ concept where we’re bringing equipment and other agriculture or construction industry interests to the National Mall where we showcase all that modern agriculture or modern construction has to offer. We have over 80 pieces of equipment from the equipment manufacturing industry. We also have partnerships with the commodity groups, with Farm Bureau, and other ag partners. We replicated that for construction on the mall.”

Kristie asked, “What’s the overall goal of the event?” Fox Wood says, “Talking to policymakers, talking to regulators, showing the equipment. There’s a storytelling that’s so much more effective when you’re looking at a combine or a tractor or a milking cluster that you just can’t get in an office. Having that backdrop puts a fine point on some of the issues that we’re trying to raise.” She continues, “Naturally, the secondary piece, just being here on the National Mall, which is a public space, is just trying to educate the general public about what agriculture, in this instance, has to offer and how wonderful US production agriculture is. When I say it’s a secondary objective to educate the general public, but it’s equally important and we take it very seriously.”

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Green Mountain Lion Corp
34 Blair Park Road Ste. 104
Williston, VT 05495

Phone: +1 802 448 8250