What is the “Right to Repair” Movement? It’s much bigger than You Might Realize…
Years ago, special interest activists began to promote legislation that is commonly misrepresented as “Right to Repair.” Proponents state that they simply want the information necessary to perform repairs of products such as combines and tractors, along with everything from cell phones to medical devices. The truth, however, is that these activists are actually after much more than repair information!
Special interest groups driving Right to Repair legislation have two primary motives:
1. Special interest groups want the government to force farm equipment manufacturers to provide all manuals, diagrams, software updates, and similar information “free of charge” to equipment owners and anyone who claims to be an independent repair provider. They also want to require manufacturers to provide all service and repair parts to the same individuals at dealer cost!
2. Special interest groups want the government to force manufacturers to provide access to proprietary intellectual property, access to engine and equipment control units, access to software that governs safety controls, and ultimately access to computer source code.
Is it reasonable for the government to force private businesses to provide goods or services “free of charge” to the public? Is it reasonable for the government to force manufacturers to provide service and repair parts to the public… much less at wholesale or dealer cost as these activists suggest?
The answer is obvious. This concept is exactly the same as having big government force a sawmill in Oregon to bypass Lowe’s and sell lumber directly to home builders… at the same price Lowe’s would have paid. If Lowe’s is not allowed to make a profit how long do you suppose they would remain in business? It would also be similar to forcing farmers to avoid using their local elevator and requiring them to sell their wheat directly to the flour mill. The entire premise behind this legislation is a direct attack to the free market, capitalistic model that America was built upon.
Farmers have the Right to Repair their equipment, but not tamper with source code.
Without question, farmers have the right to repair their equipment! Farmers can freely choose to conduct their own repair work, have their dealer perform repairs, or have an independent provider perform repairs. However, neither farmers, dealers, nor others should be allowed to modify proprietary source code. Modifying software can create a myriad of problems, such as equipment failing to meet customer expectations, exceeding acceptable emissions levels that may negatively affect our environment, or creating an unsafe workplace for those operating the equipment and those near the equipment. Modifications also create unknown liability issues for the individuals modifying the code, dealers who take modified equipment in trade for resale, and the subsequent owners of a modified unit.
Right to Repair issues within the used farm equipment market can be hidden, expensive, and dangerous.
There is another Right-to-Repair issue that lurks within the used farm equipment market, namely, the lack of ability to track or create a history of modifications to equipment. For example, a person could “tune” a tractor’s engine from 400 h.p. to 475 h.p., run it for several hundred hours, tune it back to 400 h.p., and then trade it in to a dealer or sell it at auction. That engine was operated well outside of manufacturer specifications, and the integrity of the engine and other machine components could be severely compromised. As a result, the farmer who later purchases that tractor could have the engine “blow up” or experience a different catastrophic failure due to the unknown modification.
In addition, if the modification does become known, the manufacturer has the right to void the warranty on the engine and drivetrain components. This could leave the innocent farmer who purchased that equipment paying for a new engine that could cost, for example, up to $70,000 on a late model tractor.
The farm equipment industry actively supports customers’ Right to Repair.
As farm equipment becomes more sophisticated, our industry is actively working to make available the tools that farmers need to conduct their own repairs. That commitment includes access to manuals, special tools, on-board diagnostic tools via in-cab display or wireless interface, electronic diagnostic service tools, software applications, diagnostics training, and more. Learn more at: www.r2rsolutions.org and www.illegaltampering.com.
Right to Repair Legislation is Unnecessary and Does Not Benefit Farmers.
The fact is, manufacturers and dealers currently make available almost all of the repair information customers need via manuals, product guides, and product service information. These resources, provided proactively by manufacturers and dealers, make legislation wholly unnecessary for farm equipment if the goal is simply to gain access to the information and tools necessary to repair equipment.
An equipment dealership’s success is tied directly to the success and profitability of its farming partners. Right to Repair legislation does not benefit farmers. It damages the ability of dealers and manufacturers to effectively promote the welfare and profitability of their farm customers.
Right to Repair legislation has failed across the nation. Let’s keep it that way.
Right to Repair legislation has been introduced in legislatures around the nation for several years. In 2019 alone, similar legislation was introduced in 23 states. None of it was passed. Let’s make sure it stays that way.
Please make a commitment to learn more about the Right to Repair issue, and be prepared to lobby in opposition to any Right to Repair legislation that surfaces.
Your questions and perspectives on the issue are valuable. Please contact Pioneer EDA President/CEO Matthew Larsgaard at 701-293-6822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.