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LB543, as introduced last session by Plymouth Sen. Tom Brandt, would require original equipment manufacturers to make available, on fair and reasonable terms, the documentation, parts and tools needed to diagnose, maintain or repair electronics-enabled agricultural equipment to independent mechanics or the equipment’s owner.
Modern farm equipment is computer-driven, Brandt said, which means that farmers must wait for dealers to have an available technician to diagnose and repair machinery — time that farmers don’t have. Repair manuals are available, he said, but they often are outdated unless one pays to automatically receive updates.
“Historically, in Nebraska … a good mechanic is worth more than a good doctor,” Brandt said. “As a farmer, I just want the damn thing to work.”
The legislature adjourned for the day before taking any action on LB543. It is unlikely to be debated again this session.
“In January of 2020, I asked the representative of a major equipment manufacturer when farmers and third-party mechanics would be able to fully repair their own ag equipment,” Brandt said in his opening statement about LB 543.
“They responded that the industry was working to have a right to repair available across the country by January of 2021. As of January 2021, nothing had been done. For the past year, American Farm Bureau Federation and the OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) have been working on a memorandum of understanding that would create a nationwide right-to-repair policy. Today, not much has been forthcoming.”
“The goal of this bill is to protect competition, not prevent it as is happening today,” Brandt said.
“Profiteering by OEMs not only affects farmers, but also local ag equipment repair shops that are not affiliated with dealers, often known as third-party mechanics,” Brandt said. “Today, these shops are effectively locked out from completing repairs. They’re qualified to perform repairs they can complete when they are provided with the appropriate manufacturer resources. This creates a monopoly where only dealers fix the equipment they sell, and farmers and local repair shops have no competitive resources.”