Increasing awareness and support is coming from a variety of sources on the issue of the right to repair. Several states have been working to advance various types of legislation affecting a multitude of devices and equipment. Lawmakers and agricultural groups have also been engaging in efforts to eliminate some of the barriers to repairing equipment. U.S. Senator Jon Tester recently introduced the Agriculture Right to Repair Act to require equipment manufacturers to make it easier for farmers to make repairs.
“I’ve been a farmer my whole life, and I’ve seen the unfair practices of equipment manufacturers make it harder and harder for folks to work on their tractors themselves—forcing them to go to an authorized mechanic and pay an arm and a leg for necessary repairs,” Tester said in a press release. “Manufacturers have prevented producers from fixing their own machines in order to bolster corporate profits, and they’ve done it at the expense of family farmers and ranchers, who work hard every day to harvest the food that feeds families across the country.
Other legislative efforts include the bipartisan Freedom to Repair Act. Introduced by Representatives Mondaire Jones and Victoria Spartz, the bill seeks to reform copyright law that often makes repairs a type of copyright violation. The increasing digitalization of farming equipment has made it more difficult to perform repairs as they will often require bypassing digital security locks. John Deere has been facing increasing scrutiny by the ag industry for the company’s stance on the right to repair equipment.
A 43-page petition was recently filed with the Federal Trade Commission against Deere and Company. Organizations including the National Farmers Union, Farm Action, and Public Interest Research Group allege that Deere has violated antitrust laws by restricting repairs. “Not satisfied with dominating just the market for equipment, Deere has sought to leverage its power in that market to monopolize the market for repairs of that equipment, to the detriment of farmers, ranchers, and independent repair providers,” the complaint states.