National regulations would level the playing field, some presidential candidates say
By Diego Flammini
Giving farmers the power to repair their own farm equipment is on the agenda for some U.S. presidential candidates.
Democratic hopefuls Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and John Hickenlooper have expressed support for a national right-to-repair legislation for U.S. farmers.
Currently, farmers must use authorized equipment manufacturer personnel to diagnose and repair machinery.
Changing the laws would put everyone on a level playing field, the candidates say.
“The national right-to-repair law should require manufacturers of farm equipment to make diagnostic tools, manuals and other repair-related resources available to any individual or business, not just their own dealerships and authorized agents,” Warren’s plan says.
“When we are in the White House, we will pass a national right-to-repair law that gives every farmer in America full rights over the machinery they buy,” Sanders’s platform reads.
Hickenlooper’s plan targets both farm equipment and vehicle manufacturers.
“This change would lead to more market competition amongst repairmen because smaller shops could fix a greater variety of products,” his mandate says.
Equipment associations aren’t in favor of a broad piece of legislation that covers all farm equipment.
Ensuring trained professionals are performing the necessary repairs helps with equipment longevity, these groups say.
A national right-to-repair law would “risk the safety, durability and environmental sustainability of equipment,” the Association of Equipment Manufacturers says on its website. “To encourage innovation and regulatory compliance, manufacturers and dealers will not allow access to back-end source code(s)…”
The organization also has a commitment to bring some diagnostic and repair tools to farmers by 2021.
Some U.S. farmers are undecided about national equipment repair legislation.
While the idea sounds good in principle, not many farmers would be able to perform the repairs anyway, said Brian McKenzie, a cash crop producer from Cassopolis, Mich.
“I’m absolutely in favor of the right to repair, but I don’t know how much I’d be able to make use of it,” he told Farms.com. “For simple fixes it would be great, but I definitely think there’s a limit to what farmers can do. Some mechanics go through months of training to do repairs that can get the equipment up to EPA standards. I don’t have that training and nobody on the farm has that training, so I’d probably be bringing the (service technicians) in anyway.”
Farms.com has reached out to the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association for comment on a potential national right-to-repair law.