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SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

Fix it yourself, new agricultural law in effect

Photo provided by Pexels.

By Julian Volk

On April 25, 2023, Colorado became the first state to ensure farmers could fix their own equipment with the right-to-repair law, also known as The Consumer Right to Repair Agriculture Equipment Act. 

The right-to-repair law forces manufacturers, like John Deer, Massey Ferguson, etc., to provide the necessary manuals, tools, parts, and software to be able to repair machinery from their company. 

Before the passing of this bill, it was illegal for farmers to repair their equipment. To be able to repair farming/ranching equipment, you had to be a certified service technician licensed by the manufacturer of the equipment. This has created issues for Colorado farmers looking to fix their own equipment. It also creates a monopoly for these manufacturers in the repair process, allowing them to charge above-market rates for repairs.

In January, John Deere and the American Farm Bureau Federation, an agricultural lobbying group, agreed to ensure farmers retain the right to repair their own equipment. However, the agreement also requires the American Farmers Bureau Federation to “refrain from introducing, promoting, or supporting federal or state right to repair legislation.” It states that either party can exit the agreement if any right-to-repair legislation passes.

The new right-to-repair law allows Colorado farmers and ranchers to repair their own equipment without having to take it to a manufacturer-licensed technician, meaning farmers and ranchers will save hundreds and even thousands of dollars on repairs. It should also drive down the prices set by these manufacturers for repairs.

“This bill will save farmers and ranchers time and money and support the free market,” Polis said after signing the bill. 

This new law is an addition to the already existing right-to-repair law in Colorado that protects Coloradoans’ rights to repair wheelchairs, phones, etc., on their own without having to interact with licensed technicians. 

“This is a common-sense, bipartisan bill to help people avoid unnecessary delays from equipment repairs,” Governor Polis says in a statement. “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.”

Under Colorado law, it states that it is a deceptive trade practice if equipment manufacturers fail to follow it. It adds that any contractual provision the manufacturer enters with a customer or independent repair shop to “remove or limit the manufacturer’s obligation to provide resources” cannot be enforced. It has also been written that no independent repair shops/ owners of equipment can modify any equipment in ways deemed unsafe or that would violate current copyright laws in Colorado.

“This is a huge win for farmers and ranchers in Colorado and across the country,” National Farmers Union (NFU) President Rob Larew said. “NFU has been pushing on Right to Repair issues for years, and seeing a bill like this cross the finish line is a testament to the persistence of our members and the need for this issue to be addressed nationally.”

Many states look to follow Colorado in introducing this new law for agricultural purposes. Texas, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, and Vermont have all introduced legislation that could pass in the coming weeks protecting farmers’ and ranchers’ right to repair.

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