The Nebraska Legislature will once again look at a bill on the Right to Repair.
Introduced by Senator Tom Brandt of the 32nd District on Jan. 19, LB543, entitled the Agricultural Equipment Right-To-Repair Act, will, if passed, offer farmers a way to repair their equipment without having to wait on a dealer.
A similar bill had been introduced in 2017. Lydia Brasch of the 16th District introduced LB67, “Adopt the Fair Repair Act,” but the bill was indefinitely postponed in 2018.
Brandt said he spoke with other senators and decided the previous bill had been too broad.
“The opposition it faced at that time was primarily from consumer electronics, Samsung, Apple, Dell. Our constituents want ag, right to repair, so that’s how we fashioned the bill this time,” Brandt said.
Technology has taken over quite a bit of agriculture, and Brandt says the sticking point is not with the dealerships but with the original manufacturers. The majority of the tractors and other farm equipment have software and codes. If a tractor goes down, the farmer has to wait for the dealership or someone above them to send someone out to fix the code.
“The bill enables independent mechanics to access what they need for a repair, within reason,” he said.
The bill would require the mechanic to purchase the needed tools or software from the local franchisee.
The bill’s introduction raises some concerns dealing with modifying parts on the equipment, such as exhaust or horsepower. Brandt is quick to explain both of those are under federal law.
The problem, much like broadband, getting someone out to the farm equipment can be an ordeal for a farmer broken down in a field.
“In the state of Nebraska, we do not have enough technicians or mechanics just in our dealerships to fix all this equipment. We need these guys out on the farms that are already doing this kind of work, and this should enable them to do more of what they are doing,” he said.
Brandt introduced the bill on Jan. 19, and on Jan. 22, the bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee.