Right to Repair Wins Big in Colorado
In a win for small farmers everywhere, Colorado passed the nation’s first Right to Repair law (HB23-1011) for farm and agriculture equipment on April 25, allowing farmers to repair their own equipment without being required to go through the manufacturer or a licensed dealer. Colorado State Representative Brianna Titone, an urban legislator and the first transgender legislator in the state, championed the agricultural Right to Repair bill following her successful effort to pass similar legislation for wheelchairs.
Right to Repair policy is an important element of supporting farmers and reining in corporate monopolies. Modern farm equipment purchases often include a restrictive contract clause that prohibits the buyer from making repairs. Instead, the farmer must bring the equipment to the dealer or a licensed repair shop, which is much more expensive and time-consuming. As farm equipment dealers and mechanics, like other agricultural businesses, have consolidated in recent decades, farmers regularly must drive an hour or more to the closest licensed service shop – an especially expensive trip while hauling a malfunctioning tractor. If key equipment breaks during harvest time, the farmer may lose their crop while waiting for a licensed service agent to come diagnose the problem.
Many electronics now contain restrictive clauses that prohibit the end user from repairing their device, whether a combine, a car, or a smartphone. Across the country, legislators in at least 20 states filed Right to Repair bills this session, addressing various kinds of equipment. Policies focused on farm equipment repair, like Rep. Titone’s HB23-1011, give farmers the ability to get the tools, documentation, and parts they need to be able to repair their own equipment or hire a third party technician.
For Rep. Titone, championing farm Right to Repair made sense as a way to support Colorado’s food producers. She says, “When it comes to agriculture, our farmers have enough to worry about that is out of their control. Not having the ability to fix their equipment when it unexpectedly breaks shouldn’t be one of them.”
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