UNITED STATES NEWS

Colorado becomes 1st to pass ‘right to repair’ for farmers

Apr 25, 2023, 9:51 AM | Updated: 2:30 pm

DENVER (AP) — Sitting in front of a hulking red tractor, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill Tuesday making Colorado the first state to ensure farmers can fix their own tractors and combines with a “right to repair” law — which compels manufacturers to provide the necessary manuals, tools, parts and software.

Colorado, home to high desert ranches and sweeping farms on the low-and-level plains, took the lead on the issue following a nationwide outcry from farmers that manufacturers, such as John Deere, blocked them from making fixes and forced them to wait precious days for an official servicer to arrive — waits that imperiled profits.

While their increasingly high-tech tractors or combines sit impotent, a hailstorm could decimate a crop or a farmer could miss the ideal planting window, farmers said.

“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,” said Bill Midcap, whose son is a fifth-generation rancher on Colorado’s eastern plains.

Lawmakers in at least 10 other states have introduced similar legislation, including in Florida, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Texas and Vermont.

Colorado has taken the lead, but Democratic Rep. Brianna Titone, the bill’s sponsor, and Dan Waldvogle, director of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, said it’s a potential launch pad for other states and even at the federal level where discussions about similar legislation are already underway.

At the signing ceremony Tuesday afternoon, under a light drizzle of rain, Polis said: “This bill will save farmers and ranchers time and money and support the free market in repair” before exclaiming, “first in the nation!”

Behind the governor and arrayed farmers and lawmakers sat a red Steiger 370 tractor owned by a farmer named Danny Wood. Wood’s tractor has flown an American flag reading “Farmers First,” and it been one of two of his machines to break down, requiring long waits before servicers arrived to enter a few lines of computer code or make a fix Wood could have made himself.

Polis and Titone climbed inside the tractor for a photo as the ceremony ended.

Polis signed the bill after the legislation advanced through long committee hearings, having been propelled forward mostly by Democrats even though a Republican lawmaker co-sponsored the bill. The proposal left GOP lawmakers stuck between their farming constituents pleading for the ability to repair their equipment and the manufacturers who vehemently opposed it.

Manufacturers and dealerships raised concerns that providing tools and information to farmers would allow equipment owners to illegally crank up the horsepower and bypass emissions controls — putting operator safety and the environment at risk.

They also argued that the law would expose companies’ trade secrets. Republican Rep. Richard Holtorf, a farmer himself, further worried that it would push dealerships out of business, especially in rural parts of the state.

The bill’s proponents acknowledged that the legislation could make it easier for operators to modify horsepower and emissions controls. But they argued that farmers are already able to tinker with their machines, and doing so would remain illegal.

The law falls into the broader “right to repair” campaign, which has picked up steam across the country and applies to a range of products, from iPhones to hospital ventilators. Independent mechanics and car owners have access to tools and parts because of a 2014 memorandum of understanding signed by the automotive industry.

Two years ago, President Joe Biden directed the Federal Trade Commission to beef up its right-to-repair enforcement.

____

Bedayn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

United States News

FILE - Lawyer Kenneth Chesebro is sworn in during a plea deal hearing, Oct. 20, 2023, at the Fulton...

Associated Press

Takeaways from the Wisconsin 2020 fake electors lawsuit settlement

More than 1,400 pages of emails, text messages and other documents released Monday reveal details of a strategy by Republican operatives tied to then-President Donald Trump to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in Wisconsin. The documents — settling a civil lawsuit filed against two attorneys and 10 Wisconsin Republicans who posed as fake electors — […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

A judge orders prison for a Michigan man who made threats against Jewish people

A 20-year-old Michigan man who admitted using social media to make violent threats against Jewish people was sentenced Monday to a year and a day in prison, far short of what prosecutors had recommended. A sentence exceeding a year makes someone eligible for good conduct credits and a shorter stay in federal custody. Seann Pietila, […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Falls from US-Mexico border wall in San Diego hospitalize 10 in a day

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Eleven people were hurt over the weekend while trying to climb over a wall that separates Mexico and the United States and falling on the San Diego side, the latest such injuries since the wall was heightened to deter illegal crossings. Ten people ranging in age from 18 to mid-40s were […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Venus flytrap poachers arrested in taking of hundreds of rare plant

BOILING SPRING LAKES, N.C. (AP) — Authorities in North Carolina have arrested two people in a case of poaching hundreds of Venus flytraps, which grow naturally in the eastern part of the state. Officers with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission obtained arrest warrants for two people accused of stealing nearly 600 of the rare […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

New Hampshire man who triggered Amber Alert held without bail in death of his children’s mother

A New Hampshire man accused of abducting his children after killing their mother was ordered held without bail Monday. Dustin Mark Duren, 37, was charged with second-degree murder Friday in the death of Caitlyn Naffziger, 31. Police had issued an Amber Alert after finding Naffziger dead in an apartment in Berlin, and Duren was arrested […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

The owners of a Christian boarding school in Missouri are jailed and charged with kidnapping crimes

The husband and wife owners of a Missouri boarding school for boys have been jailed and charged with felony crimes after a lengthy investigation by a county sheriff. Wayne County Sheriff Dean Finch said in a news release that Larry Musgraves Jr., 57, was arrested Friday evening on the ABM Ministries campus in Piedmont, a […]

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Colorado becomes 1st to pass ‘right to repair’ for farmers