Right-to-repair bill for agricultural equipment set for debate soon

DENVER (KDVR) — Another right-to-repair bill is making its way through the state Capitol this year. Last year it was for wheelchairs, and this time around it’s for agricultural equipment.

Folks working in agriculture said damage to their equipment can mean a major loss in production, which in turn could mean a major loss of money. Lawmakers are trying to do something about that.

“We farm anywhere from Alma, a city in Nebraska, to Pawnee Pass, which is West of Sterling,” said Danny Wood, a farm owner in Peetz. He has a lot of equipment.

“We have three combines and four tractors, planters, drills. Everything is more modern, getting more modern. And that’s what this bill is about. Because everything is getting more modern with a lot of electronics,” Wood said.

For electronics that need repairs or updates, farmers said they have to wait for manufacturers to complete it for them, holding them back from business.

“You can’t afford to pay $3,000 to $900,000 for a piece of equipment and have it sit there. Because if you have a combine that will combine 200 acres a day of wheat, it’s making 50 a bushel, that’s 10,000 bushels of wheat, and today, wheat is worth $9.50. That’s $95,000 a day you’re losing,” Wood said.

In right-to-repair farm equipment, some exceptions

Lawmakers want that loss of revenue to stop. They are taking a similar approach they used with the right-to-repair wheelchairs bill last year to cover farm equipment not used for transportation.

“Farm equipment can have a wide variety of different tools that are in it. The bill does describe some exceptions to that,” said Rep. Brianna Titone, of Jefferson County.

“Airplanes that spray are not included in this bill, because the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has their own regulations about fixing airplanes. We don’t want to disrupt that. You can hook up a sprayer on a four-wheeler, but we aren’t talking about four-wheelers,” Titone said.

With wheelchairs already covered and farming equipment a possibility, could Coloradans soon have the right to repair other items?

“There’s 20 other right-to-repair bills happening across the United States right now. So, I’d like to really see how those measures are going and see what we can learn from those things. On the horizon, I think there is a possibility but I don’t want to go too fast on this,” Titone said.

There is bipartisan sponsorship for the bill, but in committee, it passed along party lines with Democrats voting yes and Republicans voting no. That’s something farmers said was disappointing after some Republicans called for the state to focus more on agriculture.

If the bill passes this session, it would take effect next January.

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