Colorado Approves First-Ever Agricultural Right to Repair Bill
Right to Repair

Colorado Approves First-Ever Agricultural Right to Repair Bill

Farmers, Raise Your Wrenches!

Farmers have always been a fix-it-yourself kind of people. But when it comes to repairing their tractors and other agricultural equipment, they’ve been locked out of many kinds of repairs by manufacturers like John Deere. Equipment getting stuck in “limp mode” in the field at harvest time is not only expensive but demeaning and frustrating.

But now, farmers in Colorado have reason to celebrate. Denver legislators have just passed the first-ever agricultural Right to Repair bill. Today’s landslide 25-8 vote in the Senate followed a 48-12 vote in the House in February.

We’ve been raising the alarm and advocating for farmers for a decade. In the meantime, Deere and other major agricultural equipment manufacturers have worked ever harder to keep their repair monopolies, consolidating independent repair shops into larger and larger dealerships. This has left farmers with few options when it comes to fixing their equipment.

Colorado is already a leader in the Right to Repair movement. Last year, they passed the first US Right to Repair bill since 2012, protecting Coloradans’ right to fix their own powered wheelchairs. Colorado’s fight for the Right to Repair is being waged by a broad coalition of groups, including Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, and CoPIRG.

In January—the beginning of the legislative season—Deere and the American Farm Bureau Federation signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), promising to give farmers access to some previously restricted repair materials. And on the very day of a critical hearing, Case IH and New Holland signed their own memorandum of understanding at the last minute, a desperate attempt to smother the bill. However, legislators determined that both MOUs were vague, incomplete, and unenforceable. Suspiciously, they also required that members of the American Farm Bureau Federation cease advocating for Right to Repair laws. 

But other farm groups in Colorado and beyond have continued to advocate on behalf of all farmers. Montana Farmers Union president Walter Schweitzer told PIRG,

We could have a dozen pinky swears from a dozen tractor manufacturers, but we still wouldn’t have comprehensive repair materials. I’m running out of pinkies and I still can’t fix my damn tractor. 

—WALTER SCHWEITZER, Montana Farmers Union President

Despite some concessions by John Deere, farmers remained frustrated with the restrictions on repairs. Once the Agricultural Right to Repair bill passes, manufacturers will be required to share all the parts, embedded software, firmware, tools, and documentation necessary for repair.

Two critical steps remain: a reconciliation vote in the House, which already overwhelmingly passed the legislation, and a signature by Governor Polis, who has signaled that he supports the legislation.

“This is a huge win for farmers in Colorado, who will now have more control over their own equipment and the ability to fix it themselves,” said Kyle Wiens, iFixit CEO. “iFixit has been fighting for our right to fix every thing we own for two decades. We’re thrilled to see this right extended to farmers in Colorado, and we expect that other states will follow suit.”

To support Right to Repair legislation near you, find your state on—or, if you’re outside the US, look for your country’s advocacy network here.