Farmers First: Colorado Passes ‘Right to Repair’ Law, Setting Precedent for Federal Measures

Colorado on Tuesday became the first state to pass a “right to repair law,” a measure that requires manufacturers to provide the necessary manuals, tools, parts, and software to ensure that farmers are able to fix their own tractors and combines.

The Consumer Right To Repair Agricultural Equipment, sponsored by Democratic Representative Brianna Titone, sets an example for other states, and even on a federal level. Similar measures have been introduced in at least 10 other states, including Florida, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Texas, and Vermont.

Agricultural equipment, particularly tractors and combines, have evolved into highly sophisticated tools with GPS and automation that manufacturers like John Deere have insisted on keeping parts, firmware, and manuals for devices secret and proprietary until recently

Manufacturers and dealerships are also concerned that giving farmers the information necessary to do their own repairs could allow them to illegally tweak their equipment and inadvertently put operators at risk. They also had a green angle where they claim that farmers could bypass emissions controls and end up harming the environment.

The main pain point for farmers, apart from the costs, getting diagnostic, maintenance, or repair services from these manufacturers often means losing a lot of precious time. And as many of you already know, farming has a lot to do with timing.

“I am proud to sign this important bipartisan legislation that saves hardworking farmers and ranchers time and money on repairs, and supports Colorado’s thriving agriculture industry,” said Colorado Governor Jared Polis in a statement

“This is a common-sense bipartisan bill to help people avoid unnecessary delays from equipment repairs. Farmers and ranchers can lose precious weeks and months when equipment repairs are stalled due to long turnaround times by manufacturers and dealers. This bill will change that.”

The new law takes effect beginning January 1, 2024. Manufacturers will then be required to “provide parts, embedded software, firmware, tools, or documentation, such as diagnostic, maintenance, or repair manuals, diagrams, or similar information (resources), to independent repair providers and owners of the manufacturer’s agricultural equipment to allow an independent repair provider or owner to conduct diagnostic, maintenance, or repair services on the owner’s agricultural equipment.”

The Federal Trade Commission “stands ready to work with legislators” at the state or federal level to ensure that consumers get appropriate access to repair their own devices and equipment (and it’s not limited to agricultural use).

Information for this story was found via The Colorado General Assembly, The Colorado Sun, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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