In recent years, farmers in the U.S. have become the poster children of a global right to repair movement. Their struggles to keep equipment operating in the face of manufacturer software-enforced monopolies on service and repair have become fodder for countless news articles documenting long waits, stratospheric costs and the many contortions farmers endured – from paying a premium for decades-old “dumb” machinery to buying black market versions of administrative software like John Deere’s Service Advisor.
Despite that, efforts to liberate farmers with state laws granting a right to repair agricultural equipment have failed time and again. But now, after years of efforts, farmers in one state can see light at the end of the tunnel. On Tuesday, Colorado’s House of Representatives voted 44-16 in favor of an agricultural equipment right to repair bill approved by the State Senate. That cleared the way for the bill to make its way to Governor Jared Polis’s desk, where he is expected to sign it into law.
Ag right to repair: ‘sweeter than summer corn’
The vote puts the nation’s first right to repair law for agricultural in sight of the finish line and was celebrated as a major victory by right to repair advocates.
“This victory is sweeter than summer corn,” tweeted Kevin O’Reilly, of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), one of the organizers of PIRG’s national right to repair campaign.
Right to repair legislation focused on agricultural equipment like tractors have been a mainstay of right to repair campaigns for nearly a decade, but have failed to gain traction in state houses in the face of staunch opposition from agricultural equipment makers like John Deere.
That included Colorado, where opponents of an agriculture right to repair bill enlisted the support of a former governor, Roy Romer – who at one point owned one of the largest John Deere dealerships in the country – to testify against a right to repair law in 2021. That bill failed to clear a committee vote – the fate of close to 100 right to repair bills nation-wide since 2014.
The tide turns
But the tide began to turn in 2022.