Amid recent uproar for the right to repair throughout the farming community, Senator Jon Tester joined the call for action in a Senate Commerce Committee hearing earlier last week.
The hearing followed a recent vote by the Nebraska Farm Bureau that resulted in a nearly unanimous backing of the right for farmers to repair their own agricultural equipment.
Sen. Tester (D-MT) recalled a visit he had taken to his own farm and how he had to replace a broken part on his combine. If his machine had not been over a decade old, he said, he would not have been able to fix it because the technology of more modern machines makes it nearly impossible to do so today.
He stated that issues like this are “going to put people in production agriculture out of business… and it’s gonna ruin it for this country.”
The Senator insisted that it be noted that he was not just talking about repairing a phone because the amount it costs to replace a phone is nominal compared to that of the cost of a brand new combine or tractor.
“I can go buy a new one [cellphone] for $300 bucks,” explained Sen. Tester, ”It costs me $300,000 bucks to buy a combine if I can’t repair the damn thing.”
Christine Wilson, FTC Commissioner, said that while she agrees with the importance of the right to repair for farmers, there are concerns about consumer protections because of the lack of knowledge regarding newer products.
“For example, if you put the wrong battery in a certain product it might explode,” Commissioner Wilson said.
The FTC is currently looking for a balanced solution to the issue, according to the Commissioner.