Agriculture Right to Repair Act could unlock equipment repair barriers for farmers

The news: A US Senate bill introduced by Sen. Jon Tester last week could force farm equipment manufacturers to make parts, documentation, software updates, and tools more easily available to third parties.

More on this: The Agriculture Right to Repair Act is the latest in a wave of consumer-friendly right-to-repair legislation that directly challenges the business model of some equipment manufacturers, per the Register.

  • “Manufacturers have far too much control over what farmers are allowed to do with their own equipment, and this costs farmers time and money,” said Rob Larew, president of the National Farmers Union. “Senator Tester’s bill would give farmers and independent mechanics the freedom to fix their equipment in a timely and cost-effective way.”
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) passed a unanimous decision targeting unlawful right-to-repair restrictions last year as part of the Biden administration’s pro-consumer mandates.
  • The bill aims to remove proprietary locks and urges standards, interoperability, and the use of common tools for repairing items.

What’s next: Since the bill has just been introduced, it will take some time to review and refine as it’s pushed through legislation. Expect lobbying and pushback from equipment manufacturers refusing to grant access to hardware or software, which they see as their intellectual property.

  • Farm equipment manufacturers have used the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for decades to argue that consumers do not own the software that powers the products they buy.
  • John Deere told the Copyright Office that farmers don’t own their tractors but rather receive an “implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle.”