Machinery repair rules in USMCA could hurt Canadian farmers

Many times when we talk about trade deals there is immense focus on reducing tariffs, increasing trade flows, or increasing market access. There are other chapters of text that create a basis for the agreement in terms of how the involved countries will handle issues like the environment, labour standards, and cultural exemptions.

Carlo Dade, of the Canada West Foundation, is very concerned about some of the text in the USMCA agreement, how intellectual property is handled, and how it could possibly impact Canadian farmers but not U.S.-based farmers. Dade recently wrote an opinion piece in the Hill Times regarding his concerns.

READ: Farmers no further ahead with recent right to repair agreement

In an interview on Friday, Dade told RealAgriculture, “In Canada we already have very restrictive laws against breaking digital locks, but those preventions have been picked up by the gaming, auto, and equipment sector.”

The problem is that Americans have been granting copyright exemptions to farmers for farm equipment.The new NAFTA deal further cements these digital lock barriers — but the U.S. can still give its farmers exemptions while Canada cannot, Dade says.

The U.S. waivers are for legal use of equipment. You are not allowed to hack the equipment; the U.S. right is about being able to fix the equipment when it breaks down.

In the case of the automobile industry, there were legal breakthroughs to allow third party mechanic shops to read the non-emission error codes. According to Dade this has not happened for farm machinery yet which may be required for farmers to truly be protected in Canada.

READ: Chipping your tractor could come with big consequences

“The nasty surprise is that Canada may be hindering our ability to grant farmers the right to work on their own farm machinery, a right currently enjoyed by American farmers,” Dade says.

Carlo Dade joined Shaun Haney to chat about this issue so you can draw your own conclusions on the matter. 

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