Colorado farmers win the Right to Repair their tractors
Colorado just became the first state to establish a Right To Repair for farmers, guaranteeing them everything they need to fix their own equipment on reasonable terms.
It’s a win for competition, consumer choice and Colorado farmers.
In years past, when tractors and combines broke down, farmers’ repair options included independent shops as well as the dealer or manufacturer. But today, as we explain in a recent Denver Post op-ed, “tractor-makers lock farmers out of repairing their equipment by withholding necessary software tools, forcing farmers to use a dealer technician. That can lead to repair delays and equipment downtime of days to weeks, putting farmers’ crops—and their ability to make a living—at risk.”
With the adoption of this new law, Colorado farmers’ freedom to fix as they choose is restored.
It’s also a win for the movement to make repair mainstream and accessible to all, in order to make our modern world of technological wonder sustainable. Every step away from today’s throwaway culture, returning us to a reuse- and repair-driven economy, is vital progress.
The staff of our state PIRG in Colorado, CoPIRG, and PIRG’s national Right To Repair team partnered with many farming community allies on this effort, including the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Colorado Corn Growers Association, Colorado Wool Growers Association, Colorado Association of Wheat Growers, Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and the National Federation of Independent Business. And our national partners Repair.org, iFixit and National Farmers Union have been key to this victory and our efforts across the country.
To help farmers make their case for Right To Repair to the public and elected leaders, we produced and promoted a series of research reports documenting farmers’ repair needs and struggles, including:
- “Why Farmers Need Right To Repair,” finding near-unanimous support for Right To Repair among surveyed farmers across 15 states in 2022; and
- Our recent “Out To Pasture” report, showing that Right To Repair reforms would save American farmers $4.2 billion per year.
And our campaign urging John Deere, one of America’s largest and most recognizable farm equipment manufacturers, to release its stranglehold on farmers’ repair options played a critical role in elevating the issue and providing proof of concept for an agricultural Right To Repair.
- Our report, “Deere in the Headlights,” debunked the arguments and exposed the tactics the company has used to stop independent repair;
- PIRG’s affiliated socially responsible mutual fund filed a shareholder resolution urging John Deere to embrace Right To Repair, while PIRG joined forces with farmers and repair groups to file a complaint with the FTC alleging anti-competitive practices. These combined efforts helped persuade John Deere to expand access to repair resources last year; and
- Our coalition also petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to investigate the company’s restrictions on repair as a potential violation of the federal Clean Air Act.
Thanks to our work, this January, John Deere signed an agreement with the Farm Bureau removing barriers to independent repair options for farmers.
But concerns about the enforceability and durability of this agreement only strengthened our conviction that Right To Repair reforms must be enshrined in law to be fully protective. That’s why our national campaign director has helped bring farmers to Washington, D.C., to advocate face-to-face to policymakers for their Right To Repair.
Together, we celebrated when President Biden heeded our calls by ordering the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to act to remove repair restrictions, with tractors singled out as a prime opportunity to restore competition to the marketplace.
And all the while, we pressed forward in states like Colorado, where CoPIRG helped win a landmark law establishing a statewide wheelchair Right To Repair last year.
Now we hope this latest Colorado victory provides political momentum to pass similar laws in more states and, ultimately, a federal law that guarantees American farmers access to the tools and software needed to fix their own equipment—like the Agricultural Right To Repair Act, a bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) in the last session of Congress.
I’m proud of my state. I want to thank Gov. Polis, State Sens. Janice Marchman (D-Loveland) and Nick Hinrichsen (D-Pueblo), and State Reps. Brianna Titone (D-Arvada) and Ron Weinberg (R-Loveland) for their strong support of farmers’ Right To Repair. Congratulations to CoPIRG Director Danny Katz and his team, PIRG Right To Repair Senior Director Nathan Proctor and his team, and our friends in the repair and farming communities.
For more on PIRG’s Right To Repair work, check out yesterday’s Los Angeles Times editorial and Washington Post column.