Farmers are fighting for the right to repair their own equipment. “Right to Repair” bills in 11 state legislatures outline requirements that manufacturers provide the means necessary to make timely and cost-effective repairs in the field and at home.
As things currently stand, owners of agricultural equipment often do not have the tools necessary to fix their own equipment. In rural areas where manufacturer’s technicians may not be available for days, or even weeks, deadlines for harvesting may pass, losing farmers contracts and capital, while wasting precious commodities.
Why can’t farmers repair their own equipment? Modern farm equipment often requires codes to access software as well as special tools and parts. And pushback from some manufacturers worried about releasing trade secrets and bypassing emissions controllers may keep things that way. According to multiple news sources, those who oppose the “right to repair” bills are saying that the government should not be forcing the sale of company’s intellectual property.
“It’s simple: Farmers should be able to fix their own tractors. But manufacturer-imposed repair restrictions allow manufacturers to determine who does the repair, when and for how much. We need to give farmers repair choices and let them get back to producing the food that goes on our tables. Farmers are asking for help — the Senate should pass the Agricultural Right to Repair Act to make it clear that they are listening,” said Kevin O’Reilly, Right to Repair Campaign Director at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
One of the most recent additions to state legislatures is Colorado’s HB23-1011, a bill that require manufacturers to provide parts, embedded software, firmware, tools, and documentation to independent repair providers and owners.
The bill folds agricultural equipment into the existing consumer right-to-repair statutes, which statutes provide the following:
- A manufacturer’s failure to comply with the requirement to provide resources is a deceptive trade practice
- In complying with the requirement to provide resources, a manufacturer need not divulge any trade secrets to independent repair providers and owners
- Any new contractual provision or other arrangement that a manufacturer enters into that would remove or limit the manufacturer’s obligation to provide resources to independent repair providers and owners is void and unenforceable.
Colorado is joined by 10 states including Florida, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Texas, and Vermont.
Last month, the American Farm Bureau Federation and John Deere announced a private agreement promising to offer farmers and independent repair shops access to purchase software, manuals, and other tools needed to repair Deere’s equipment.