Simultaneous Right-to-Repair Hearings in Helena

by Colter Brown

It is rare that both the Senate Ag Committee and the House Ag Committee discuss the same subject at the exact same time, but that is what happened at the State Capitol for nearly two hours on Tuesday afternoon.

Members of both bodies have presented separate versions of “Right-to-Repair” legislation for agricultural equipment.  In the Senate, Sen. Willis Curdy (D) of Missoula has introduced SB347, which he presented to the Senate Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Committee on February 21st.  Meanwhile, at that precise moment just two floors below, Rep. Tom France (D) also of Missoula, introduced his own HB 475 on the same subject, before the House Agriculture Committee.

Both pieces of legislation aim to require manufacturers to ensure that farmers and independent repair shops have access to the tools and software needed to repair their own equipment.  Montana Farmers Union President Walter Schweitzer told about some of the challenges he experienced getting equipment repaired. Other proponents included the Northern Plains Resource Council, members of the Montana Cattlemen’s Association, individual farmers, the Public Interest Research Group and groups such as The Repair Association, and SecuRepairs.

Opposing the bills were the Montana Farm Bureau, Montana Chamber of Commerce, and Montana Equipment Dealers Association. Employees and owners of dealerships like Hoven Equipment, RDO, C&B, Torgersons, Frontline Ag Solutions, Tri-County Implement, T&E, and Churchill Equipment said they already offer the software and tools that to make the high-tech repairs, but only a handful of farmers or independent repair shops have purchased those tools from them so far.

Much of the discussion focused on whether the existing tools allow farmers to make the appropriate repairs, and whether manufacturers should be limited on what they can charge to provide that diagnostic and repair equipment.

Click here to read either of the two Bills being discussed in the Montana Legislature:

         SB347 – Revise Right to Repair Laws Relating to Agriculture (Senator Willis Curdy)

         HB475 – Generally Revise Laws Related to Agricultural Equipment Repair (Representative Tom France)

by Colter Brown – Northern Ag Network

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