Tractor ‘Right to Repair’ Could Save NC Farmers $103 Million a Year
Wednesday, May 3, 2023
North Carolina farmers are calling on lawmakers to address manufacturer-imposed repair limitations on tractors, and minimize disruptions on their farms.
A report by the North Carolina Public Interest Research Group reveals that broken equipment costs farmers $3 billion, with an additional $1 billion spent on repairs annually.
For NC farmers, that cost is $103 million.
Stuart Beam, a long-time western North Carolina farmer, pointed out that constraints of modern agricultural technology that hinder farmers from fixing problems themselves - sidelining the requirements of small and medium-sized farms.
He recalled a personal experience where he had to wait two weeks for assistance when his machinery broke down in March.
"And in a lot of scenarios," said Beam, "even if we can replace that part, we still have to have a dealer bring their computer out to the field - or take that machine to a dealer - and all that boils down to is down time on the farm."
Manufacturers often enforce repair limitations on tractors and other heavy machinery to safeguard proprietary software and technology.
The Right to Repair reform would require tractor producers to provide farmers and independent dealers access to repair resources and software to fix the equipment.
Beam also said that limited competition leads to more challenges. And he stressed that long repair times and a lack of incentives for quality fixes are concerns.
He pointed out that while big farmers usually lease new equipment, small farmers often buy secondhand machinery.
Beam said he firmly believes the right-to-repair measures protect smaller farmers and the essential crops they grow for their local communities.
"Right-to-repair legislation, especially in North Carolina, will ease the burdens on small to medium-sized farmers," said Beam. "It's very important to realize that a lot of the very large farmers, they are in an entirely different economic window."
Colorado recently passed the country's first Right to Repair Act, and 15 other states are considering similar legislation.
It's this momentum that Beam said gives him hope that North Carolina farmers will be able to cut down their $103 million loss and repair bill.
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