What is the ‘Right to Repair’ and how does it affect farmers?

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There are two House bills that have been introduced and read by the Missouri House of Representatives. They are Missouri’s Consumer Electronics Right to Repair Bill, HB 1118, and Farm Repair Bill, HB 975, and both bills have a direct effect on Missouri farmers. They require manufacturers to provide consumers or farmers with access to service information, diagnostic tools and affordable replacement parts so they can fix their devices and machinery quickly so they can get back to work when machinery breakdowns occur. However, tech giants and manufacturers like Apple, Microsoft, AT&T and John Deere are not happy with this idea, even though the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 2015 made it legal for farmers to “hack” the computers on their tractors and combines for the purpose of repair, these giants of the industry are still not in compliance.

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Software modification is still against John Deere’s terms of service, which was updated soon after the DMCA ruling. Despite this, many farmers are turning into activists out of necessity. The Fair Repair Act gives an individual the ability to purchase the diagnostic tools and take the tractor or combine to a local repair person for the repairs, or to try to repair the equipment themselves. Apple, Microsoft and AT&T showed up at a hearing in Lincoln, Nebraska, when Senator Lydia Brasch introduced the Fair Repair Act bill there, which in itself was a bit concerning. Why would these tech giants be so interested in this bill? was the question Senator Brasch had. They showed up because the “Right to Repair” bills affect all electronic equipment, including cell phones, computers and, of course, tractors and combines.

The tech giants stated that the Right to Repair bill wouldn’t only affect the state of Nebraska but everywhere their products are sold. They wanted to stop Senator Brasch from introducing the bill for Right to Repair. The reason given was that it would open a mecca for hackers, which Senator Brasch stated that she did not believe it would. When you buy a cellphone, computer or farm machinery, consumers should have the right to access repairs wherever or however they…

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