After Colorado’s legislation allowing farmers the right to repair farm machinery passed last year, Michigan hopes to become the second state to pass such legislation.
The farming industry has adapted and moved quickly, with new tractors becoming increasingly sophisticated. And while equipment manufacturers, such as John Deere and CNH Industrial brands, have signed a memorandum of understanding with the American Farm Bureau Federation, providing farmers and ranchers the right to repair their own equipment, some farmers are saying that it’s not enough.
Michigan’s Democratic Rep. Reggie Miller introduced the bill last year, affirming farmers’ argument that waiting for dealerships to arrive on farms is costly.
“When they’re out in the field, when they’re in that combine, and it breaks down, and they have a short window to get that crop out, it can be devastating. It could cost them tens of thousands of dollars,” Miller told the Michigan Public.
A report released by the nonprofit U.S. PIRG Education Fund last year estimated that U.S. farmers lose $3 billion to tractor downtime and pay an additional $1.2 billion in excess repair costs each year.
“If farm equipment breaks down at the wrong time and farmers can’t get it fixed, they can be forced to watch their crop — and their profits — wither on the vine,” said Kevin O’Reilly, director of U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s Right to Repair campaign and the author of the report. “Too many farmers have told me that not being able to fix their own equipment can cost them their crop and their livelihood. The answer to this problem is simple: Let farmers fix their stuff.”
Currently, farmers are fighting for the right to repair their own equipment. “Right to repair” bills in 11 other state legislatures outline requirements that manufacturers provide the means necessary to make timely and cost-effective repairs in the field and at home.