Right to Repair Legislation – The Real Scoop

Only a small fraction of farmers is aware of “right to repair” legislation that has been considered by state legislatures in recent years, according to a recent survey. The legislation would provide unfettered access to proprietary embedded code, jeopardizing the safety and sustainability of modern agricultural equipment, including tractors and combines. Out of more than 500 farmers surveyed, only 28% are aware of “right to repair” legislation. However, a majority of farmers believe that they should be able to repair their own equipment.

To help educate the industry about the safety, environmental, and legal risks associated with “right to repair” legislation, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) has been engaging farmers and others in the agricultural industry.

“Equipment manufacturers invest considerable resources in the research and development of advanced agricultural equipment that help farmers maximize their productivity,” said Stephanie See, AEM director of state government relations.” More than a dozen states are currently considering “right to repair” legislation, which would provide access to proprietary onboard diagnostics systems, which may result in loss of warranty, physical risk, violation of federal emission laws and accelerated engine wear.

The survey, commissioned by AEM, was conducted to gauge perceptions and understand awareness of “right to repair” laws across the country. The survey found that three out of four farmers (76%) believe that they already have the right to repair their own equipment. However, seven in 10 farmers (72%) also believe they should be able to conduct repairs to all aspects of their equipment, even if it relates to federally mandated safety or emissions standards.

“’Right to repair’ legislation is not about giving farmers the right to repair their equipment, they already have the ability to make most repairs,” explained See. “The issue here is illegal tampering, and we believe it is important that farmers understand the risks so they do not become victims and pay the cost of illegal tampering.”

Equipment manufacturers and dealers are dedicated to supporting farmers and their equipment needs, which is why AEM and the Equipment Dealers Association (EDA) have committed to make available a comprehensive toolkit of maintenance, diagnostic and repair information for tractors and combines by 2021. Many of the tools and resources referenced in the industry’s Statement of Principles are already available today. The toolkit includes access to the following:

  • Manuals (operator, parts, service)
  • Product guides
  • Product service demonstrations, training, seminars or clinics
  • Fleet management information
  • On-board diagnostics via diagnostics port or wireless interface
  • Electronic field diagnostic service tools, and training on how to use them
  • Other publications with information on service, parts, operation and safety

“Proponents of the ‘right to repair’ bills have been pushing the false notion that farmers cannot fix their farming equipment without access to all of the equipment’s software and code. But in reality, efforts to pass these bills are not farmer-led initiatives but are being led by well-funded activists whose main goal is to gain unfettered access to the equipment’s technology,” said Ben Wikner, an Iowa farmer.

“Modern-era tractors are highly advanced pieces of machinery that improve our productivity, safety and environmental footprint. But I believe ‘right to repair’ laws would undermine all of these benefits while forcing manufacturers to relinquish proprietary information,” Wikner added.

To learn more about the industry’s Statement of Principles, visit here.

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