By Bianca Flowers
(Reuters) -Colorado farmers will be able to legally fix their own equipment next year, with manufacturers including Deere & Co obliged to provide them with manuals for diagnostic software and other aids, under a measure passed by legislators in the first U.S. state to approve such a law.
The Consumer Right to Repair Agriculture Equipment Act passed 46-14 in Colorado’s Senate late on Tuesday, after winning approval in the state House of Representatives in February. The bill garnered bipartisan support as farmers grew increasingly frustrated with costly repairs and inflated input prices denting their profits.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis has 10 days to sign the bill into law and he is expected to do so, according to a spokesperson.
Equipment makers have generally required customers to use their authorized dealers for repairs to machines such as combines and tractors.
Colorado’s legislation would mandate that farm machinery manufacturers like Deere and rival CNH Industrial provide farmers with diagnostic tools, software documents, and repair manuals starting Jan 1. Similar resources must be made available to independent technicians.
A spokesperson for Deere & Co responded to the passage of the bill, saying that it supports farmers right to repair but believes that the legislation is “unnecessary and will carry unintended consequences.”
CNH did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.
Equipment makers worry the legislation may allow farmers to override certain safety systems or emissions controls, said Eric Wareham, a North American Equipment Dealers Association vice president.
State Representative Brianna Titone, a Democrat who sponsored the legislation, predicted other states will follow suit.
“If there are no lawsuits or collapse of the industry, it demonstrates that the law is not going to cause chaos like many opponents think it will,” Titone said.
Lawmakers amended the bill to include language that farmers and repair shops will not be authorized “to make modifications” to functions related to security or emissions.
State lawmakers are pushing right to repair legislation even though Deere and CNH signed a memorandum of understanding with the American Farm Bureau Federation to allow farmers to fix their equipment, or go to a third-party repair shop.
The agreement does not give farmers total access for repairs, said Kevin O’Reilly, director for the campaign of right to repair at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
(Reporting by Bianca Flowers; Editing by Daniel Wallis)