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The President’s Report

Shaun Groom

Little could I imagine when I started attending AEA committee meetings 15 years ago that I would have the honour of being elected the association’s President. Indeed the fact that we would be dealing with two significant events in the shape of a global pandemic and Brexit was inconceivable!

Fast forward to 2022 and both are a reality that we have to live with. Our departure from the European Union was and remains to this day a challenge for our industry, be that as an importer or exporter.

As I write these words it is with a new sense of optimism that we are finally leaving behind us what for all of us has been the life altering effects of COVID-19. The restrictions placed upon our lives, freedom of movement and ultimately

our business activities have brought challenges that we could have previously never imagined. However, I am particularly proud to say that as an industry we have adapted, finding new ways of working to continue to support those that put the food on our tables.

It’s fair to say during this time of adversity British agriculture has prospered, and a greater sense of food provenance was clearly demonstrated by the British public during the periods of lockdown. The noticeable resurgence of buying local and the reduction in imports of food from the EU has seen average UK farm incomes climb. This positive trend has driven increased investment in new equipment and technology that has not been witnessed for several years.

Today all indicators point to an industry that is looking at full order books with no sign of any imminent slowdown in demand. Indeed the return to sport and leisure has added to an already strong homeowner sector order book for our

industry colleagues in the outdoor power equipment business. Couple this increased demand to the well-publicised challenges that have impacted the global supply chain and we are witnessing most manufacturers being faced with extended lead times which in turn is creating buoyant demand for used equipment.

The highlight of my tenure as President has to be the acquisition of BAGMA (British Agricultural & Garden Machinery Association). Bringing the AEA and BAGMA together had been mooted for many years, but to finally realise this significant development in 2021 is thanks in no small part to the determination and diligence of all those involved. To be able to welcome the BAGMA Council members to the first AEA/BAGMA joint meeting with the AEA Board in London during 2021 was a real pleasure. It was clear from the discussions that ensued we have much in common. Whilst each association will retain its independence we firmly believe we can, by working together, achieve

so much for the interests of all industry stakeholders, manufacturers and dealers alike.

Just as the industry adapted in these challenging times, I am proud to say the AEA did just that as well. Under the careful guidance of Ruth Bailey the association remained operational throughout the challenges of the last two years. Staff were enabled to work from home, the Technical Standards team joined global standards meetings remotely, DVLA registration data was processed and analysed. Delivering a virtual 2021 Conference with more than 100 participants with a full complement of speakers and content is to be commended. The AEA succeeded to maintain the high level of support, advice and data thanks to a great team of staff to be proud of and I’d like to offer my wholehearted thanks for the support they have given me.

From its inception in 1875 the AEA has continued to evolve to meet its members’ needs. In recent years, the successful expansion of services offered to members has seen the appeal of membership widen with the recruitment of several new full and associate members. Indeed the value to be drawn from membership of the association is several fold. From the availability of key industry data, having a hand in defining industry standards to lobbying government, the AEA remains focused on delivering value for its membership. I would impress upon those of you reading this as an AEA member to spread the word and encourage those non-member companies to join with us and reap the benefits.

As I reach the end of my tenure as President there is so much more to do to ensure our industry continues to thrive, but I need to leave something for my successor! In all seriousness, we all have to play our part in telling as many young people as possible what a fantastic career choice this industry is.

Where else can you work for industry leading companies, whilst having a hand in defining new technology and have the possibility to travel the world if so desired? Opportunities abound with roles in design, manufacturing, technical support, sales and more all whilst playing a part in producing the global staple of man-kind, food.

My thanks to you members for your support during the last 12 months, it has been a pleasure & a honour to be your President.