Colorado governor signs “right to repair” bill

25 April 2023

Colorado has become the first state in the nation to enshrine farmers’ “right to repair” their own farm equipment. Gov. Jared Polis signed the Consumer Right To Repair Agricultural Equipment bill into law. The legislation was passed by the Colorado state senate earlier this month.

The bill requires manufacturers to provide owners and independent service businesses with the necessary software, parts, manuals and other tools they need to repair agricultural equipment.

Colorado joins New York, which passed a right to repair bill related to digital products such as phones and computers late last year, as the only states to approve such legislation. On the federal level, the Biden Administration issued an executive order last year directing the Federal Trade Commission to draft federal right to repair rules.

Colorado governor signs right to repair bill Colorado Gov. Jared Polis prepares to sign the Consumer Right to Repair Agricultural Equipment into law. (Photo: Farm Action)

Right to repair advocates hailed the new bill.

“Thanks to the tireless efforts of a coalition of advocates and organizations, including Farm Action, iFixit, National Farmers Union,, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, and U.S. PIRG, Colorado’s lawmakers understand that the right to repair is a necessary and fundamental component of a fair and competitive economy,” said Willie Cade, a local representative of Farm Action, a lobbying advocacy group focusing on food and agriculture.

“For too long, a handful of manufacturers have stifled the spirit of self-sufficiency and innovation in rural America. Across every sector of the American economy, corporations have cornered lucrative repair markets by placing restrictions on who can fix the products they sell — crushing consumer rights along the way.

“In agriculture, this situation has forced farmers into long equipment transports, resulting in losses of tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential yields. It has also harmed rural economies via the collapse of small business mechanics and repair shops, which are not permitted access to the tools they need to fix their neighbors’ equipment.”

Right to repair has been a controversial issue in the equipment industry for more than a decade, particularly in the agricultural equipment segment. As farm equipment has become more complex and reliant on sophisticated and proprietary software – much of it the result of engine emissions regulations – machine manufacturers have been hesitant to provide the information and tools to enable farmers and independent repair facilities to do more than the most basic work on equipment. That reluctance has no doubt been strengthened by well-known incidents of farmers “re-chipping” their machines, i.e., illegally modifying engine control software and hardware to increase horsepower or improve fuel economy.

On the other side of the issue, farmers have long seen the manufacturer’s position as monopolistic and an attempt to drive virtually all service and repair work toward the equipment manufacturer’s dealer networks. This, the farmers assert, increases their cost and can also leave farmers waiting in line to get their machines repaired, sometimes at critical times such as during harvesting.


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