Lawmakers in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have now proposed legislation aimed at guaranteeing farmers have the right-to-repair agricultural equipment.
Washington Democrat Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez introduced the Agricultural Right to Repair Act in the House last week. The bill closely mirrors legislation put forward by Montana Democrat Senator Jon Tester in the Senate last year.
The U.S. National Farmers Union is welcoming the bill, saying it could save American farmers an estimated $4.2 billion per year in direct costs and equipment downtime.
“The introduction of the Agricultural Right to Repair Act is an important step in our fight to ensure farmers across the country have fair and affordable access to the parts, tools, and information they need to fix farm equipment,” notes U.S. NFU president Rob Larew. “NFU stands ready to push this bill forward.”
The legislation proposed by Gluesenkamp Perez defines the type of information manufacturers would be required to provide regarding repairs. If an OEM does not make the necessary digital or physical tools available, they would be required to provide enough information to create the tools. The bill would also enhance the Federal Trade Commission’s ability to enforce these requirements.
The American Farm Bureau Federation has not commented on the proposed legislation. The AFBF has reached right-to-repair memorandums-of-understanding with several major manufacturers, including John Deere, Case/New Holland, AGCO (Fendt, Massey, Challenger, and Gleaner) and Kubota, over the past ten months, however, the terms of the agreements prevent the Farm Bureau from lobbying for legislation that goes beyond the terms of the MOUs.
At the state level, Colorado has already passed its own agricultural right-to-repair bill. The legislation, which was signed into law in April, requires manufacturers to provide farmers and independent repair providers with diagnostic tools, software documents, and manuals starting Jan. 1, 2024.
While American legislation could affect the extent to which repair resources are available to farmers in Canada, a private member’s bill aimed at protecting Canadians’ right-to-repair is currently waiting for third reading in the House of Commons.
The intent of Bill C-244, which was brought forward by BC Liberal MP Wilson Miao, is to amend the Copyright Act “in order to allow the circumvention of a technological protection measure in a computer program if the circumvention is solely for the purpose of the diagnosis, maintenance or repair of a product.”