Right to repair: Colorado becomes first state in the US to pass the law

Farmers will no longer have to wait for a servicer to fix their machines.
Loukia Papadopoulos
A farmer in a tractor.jpg
A farmer in a tractor.

Nicholas Smith/iStock 

On Tuesday, Colorado became the first state to allow farmers to fix their own equipment with the governor’s signing of a “right to repair” law. The regulation will require manufacturers to provide the necessary manuals, tools, parts, and software for the procedures.

This is according to a report by the AP published on Wednesday.

The move came after a nationwide outcry from farmers claiming that manufacturers prevent them from fixing their own machines when they break down. Farmers note that the lack of ability to repair their own devices forces them to wait precious days for a servicer to arrive, damaging their crops and interfering with their revenue.

“Farmers have had to wait three or four weeks to get repairs done to equipment when they can do repairs themselves. That’s just unfathomable,” Bill Midcap, whose son is a fifth-generation rancher on Colorado’s eastern plains, told the Colorado Sun.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, signed the new bill Tuesday afternoon. The regulation was propelled forward mostly by Democrats, even though a Republican lawmaker cosponsored the bill. The proposal saw farming constituents go head to head with the manufacturers who strongly opposed the new law.

Supporting illegal activity

Manufacturers and dealerships claimed that providing tools and information to farmers would allow equipment owners to illegally crank up the horsepower and bypass emissions controls while at the same time exposing company trade secrets.

“Forcing a business to disclose trade secrets, software and jeopardize consumer safety is poor public policy,” told AP Republican state Rep. Matt Soper, adding that it will stifle tech innovation.

The bill’s supporters acknowledged this risk but argued that farmers are already able to tinker with their machines, and doing so would remain illegal.

The law is part of a broader “right to repair” campaign, which has seen increased support throughout the nation. It currently applies to a range of products, from iPhones to hospital ventilators. 

A 2014 memorandum of understanding signed by the automotive industry led to independent mechanics and car owners having access to tools and parts to fix their devices. Similar legislation has been introduced in 10 other states, including Florida, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Texas, and Vermont.

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