Nebraska Farm Bureau Eager for 'Right to Repair' Agreement in 2020
By Becca Costello, NET News
Dec. 30, 2019, 6 a.m. ·
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The Nebraska Farm Bureau hopes to reach a deal with equipment manufacturers on the right to repair farm equipment – and if that’s not done by this time next year, they’ll pursue legislation that would force the issue.
Agricultural equipment is increasingly run by computers – that means to repair a malfunctioning tractor, you need access to the software instead of a wrench.
Nebraska Farm Bureau Policy:
But so far manufacturers have blocked access to the programs that run the equipment computers, and efforts to get the access have so far failed.
Ansley Mick is the director of state government relations for the Nebraska Farm Bureau. She says farmers, equipment dealers, and equipment manufacturers are all negotiating a possible agreement.
"Everybody's negotiating in good faith," Mick said. "And I think the understanding here is that legislative route would be kind of our last resort if we couldn't come to an agreement through these negotiations."
The Nebraska Farm Bureau recently voted to update its policy position on the issue, and included a deadline – if they don’t have an agreement by January 2021, the Farm Bureau will support legislation instead.
Mick says being unable to repair farm equipment isn’t just an inconvenience:
"For a lot of folks to experience some downtime, it can be super frustrating, and certainly time is money and it makes a big difference, especially given what agriculture has been facing the last few years," Mick said. "We just want to make sure that they have the ability to repair their equipment and get back up and running."
The American Farm Bureau Federation is likely to vote on similar strong language in support of Right to Repair agreement at its annual meeting in January.
Manufacturers are generally wary, saying farmers could bypass emissions controls – potentially leaving a dealer liable for regulatory regulations. And some cite safety concerns in wanting tractor software to stay in the hands of technicians only.
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