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Michigan legislature introduces Right to Repair bills

A total of seven different Right to Repair bills have recently been introduced into Michigan’s state legislature to give farmers the ability to repair and diagnose farm equipment.

Michigan House Ag Committee Chair Reggie Miller says her bill was written after local Farm Bureau constituents brought the issue to her attention.

“Farmers deserve to be able to repair their equipment plain and simple, they need to do this promptly because time is so crucial,” she says.

Legislative Counsel Andrew Vermeesch with Michigan Farm Bureau tells Brownfield their organization does not have related state policy and views Right to Repair as a national issue.

“Our members gave us direction and through efforts with American Farm Bureau have been working with the manufacturers to address this,” he says.  “I think farmers got a really big win when American Farm Bureau and John Deere came up with this agreement that essentially established a framework that enables farmers and independent repair facilities to have access to this essential equipment.”

Michigan Farm Bureau is not taking a position on the issue.  Vermeesch says their organization would like time for agreements made with equipment manufacturers and American Farm Bureau Federation to be fully implemented before legislative or regulatory action is taken.

At a recent committee hearing, some lawmakers questioned the validity of AFBF’s MOU which they said doesn’t appear to have consequences when manufacturers are not in compliance, and asked witnesses for improvements that could be made in Michigan’s legislation.

Jackson County farmer Jacob Faist spoke on behalf of the Michigan Corn Growers Association.

“Our dealer network is an integral part in our farming operation,” he says.  “We have to have a strong dealer network. We want to work with our dealer. I think we just need the ability to be able to quickly fix and diagnose our equipment when the issue arises.”

Eric Wareham with the North American Dealers Association testified in opposition of the legislation.

“This legislation to us is not about access and availability to parts, tools, documentation, diagnostics,” he says.  “The main thrust of this bill and the operational provision that it has, the mandate that it creates, is fixing the price of parts at dealer net cost.”

The need for more workforce development to better support farm equipment upkeep was also discussed.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michigan Farmers Union, Michigan Potato Industry Commission, and some conservation groups are also among those supporting the bill while ag equipment dealers across the state are opposed.

Six other state-level bills have been introduced regarding Right to Repair, including SB 341 – Sen. Joe Bellino, Jr (R-Monroe), SB 342 – Sen. Sam Singh (D-East Lansing), HB 4562 – Rep. Kevin Coleman (D-Westland), HB 4609 – Rep. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington), HB 4650 – Rep. Dale Zorn (R-Onsted), and HB 4651 – Rep. Donavan McKinney (D-Detroit).

Colorado became the first state to pass Right to Repair legislation in April.

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