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Colorado farmers have just won a historic battle for the right to repair

Colorado farmers have just won a historic battle for the right to repair

Manufacturers of agricultural equipment such as John Deere will be legally bound to give Colorado farms manuals for diagnostic software and other repair tools thanks to the new right to repair law. The first of his discovery The legislation could have far-reaching ripple effects, particularly in the tech industry where consumer groups have spent years arguing with device makers over the right to repair their devices. For farmers, the success of Colorado’s legislation could trigger nationwide copycat laws.

For years, farmers have struggled with equipment manufacturers who have stockpiled diagnostics and other materials in an effort to ensure that repairs only take place at their authorized dealerships. Big brands, like John Deere, have championed the practices as necessary to ensure safety and quality control. But farmers, both in Colorado and across the country, balked at that defense and said the manufacturer’s walled garden could lead to inflated repair prices and extremely long waits.

from colorado Consumers’ Right to Repair Farm Equipment Act changes all that by forcing manufacturers to “provide parts, embedded software, firmware, tools” and other documentation to enable independent repair technicians to diagnose or repair equipment. The bill passed the state Senate by a wide margin of 46 to 14 and is expected to be signed into law by state Governor Jared Polis in the coming days.

“Everyone who eats will benefit from this law,” Repair.org executive director Gay Gordon-Byrne said in a statement. statement. “Farmers will have faster repair options, which will facilitate the use of high-tech products which, in turn, will enable more productive farms.”

John Deere did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.

Right-to-repair laws like Colorado’s are crucial for farmers because tractors and other seemingly low-tech equipment, in reality, actually look a whole lot like computers in 2023. iFixit, a consumer advocacy group that supports right-to-repair efforts, says farmers are simply unable to complete many repairs that cross paths with a tractor’s emissions control system because doing so requires a specific code only available to dealer mechanics.

In the John Deere example, authorized dealerships are in short supply, with one report from the Public Interest Network estimate there were 1,437 farms in Colorado for every authorized dealer. The resulting backlog meant farmers could have to wait up to eight weeks to receive redress.

Supporters of the Colorado bill, like Kevin O’Reilly, director of the Public Interest Research Group’s (PIRG) Right to Repair Campaign, are convinced the law could serve as a springboard for legislation. similar in other countries and possibly in other sectors of the economy.

“With this bill, Colorado lawmakers are giving farmers the repair help they deserve,” O’Reilly said. “But farmers across the country should know: this is just the beginning.

Right to repair invoices have a moment

PIRG estimates 20 state legislatures across the country have introduced new right-to-repair-focused legislation covering various industries, from agriculture to technology. Nathan Proctor, Right to Repair Campaign Director of the United States Public Interest Research Group said to Axios a patchwork legislative approach amounts to a “nightmare scenario” for manufacturers who don’t want to deal with the headache of varying state-to-state repair laws. House lawmakers in Congress introduced their own federal right to repair bill last year, though it has yet to gain much traction.

On the consumer tech side, New York State signed into law right of repair legislation targeting electronic equipment manufacturers, earlier this year. The law required equipment manufacturers to make diagnostic and repair information for digital electronic parts and equipment available to users. consumers and independent repairers, which could have broad implications for consumers looking to repair everything from smartphones to laptops and computing equipment. The reviews, however, offensive lawmakers for adding last-minute amendments to legislation that create loopholes potentially allowing original equipment manufacturers to get off the hook in the name of privacy and security concerns.

Yet, in some cases, even just the threat of future legislation or regulation is enough to make a significant difference. In 2021, Microsoft broke with competitors by announcing that it would allow customers to start repairing devices outside of the company’s limited network of authorized repair shops. About a month later, Apple – long considered the antichrist of the DIY repairman – said it would also start doing DIY repairs, selling customers parts to fix their iPhones and Macs.

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