Home Legislation would enable farmers to repair agriculture equipment to OEM specifications
Politics, U.S. & World

Legislation would enable farmers to repair agriculture equipment to OEM specifications

Rebecca Barnabi
farmer in field
(© scharfsinn86 – stock.adobe.com)

The Agriculture Right to Repair Act was introduced by U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia yesterday to guarantee farmers the right to repair their own equipment and end burdensome restrictions on the repair market.

The legislation requires that original equipment manufacturers make it easier for farmers to make repairs and reduce maintenance costs.

“Farmers and producers deserve access to the tools and software necessary to repair their equipment and do their jobs — without having to work through expensive and cumbersome hurdles,” Spanberger, the only Virginian on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, said. “Agriculture is already a demanding line of work, with tight windows dictating when producers can plant or harvest crops. When machinery breaks, time is of the essence, and farmers shouldn’t have to wait weeks to get a service appointment. I’m proud to help lead the Agriculture Right to Repair Act to put this ability back in the hands of the farmers and producers that work hard to keep America fed and fueled.”

In early 2023, Spanberger hosted a Farm Bill Summit to hear from Virginia farmers and producers, provided them an outlook on the future of federal programs that impact Virginia’s farm economy, and responded to feedback about existing rules and regulations in the ag industry.

With advanced technology now being incorporated into production agriculture, it has become more and more difficult for farmers and producers to fix their own equipment — hurting the bottom lines of both producers and local non-dealer-certified repair shops. The bill defines what type of information Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are required to provide to make repair accessible. If the OEM does not have the digital or physical tools available, they are required to provide sufficient information to create the tools. The bill also gives the Federal Trade Commission the ability to enforce the requirements and the ability to make a rule to assist in the implementation of requirements.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) and Virginia Cattlemen’s Association, as well as producers in Virginia and across the United States support the bill.

“This bill will help farmers do a lot more than just save money on a repair bill. Farmers operate in windows of opportunity sent by the weather. When key equipment is down you can easily lose that window. Nothing is more aggravating than having to wait 2 or 3 days for a service tech to get there because they are understaffed and overloaded at the dealership,” said William Biscoe, a farmer in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. “The Agricultural Right to Repair Act is a commonsense solution to help ensure farmers and ranchers are able to access the tools, technology and expertise needed to stay in the fields and produce the nation’s food supply.”

Spanberger leads the Agriculture Right to Repair Act with U.S. Reps. Marie Glusenkamp Perez of Washington, Joe Neguse of Colorado and Elissa Slotkin of Michigan.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.

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