LINCOLN, NEB. – A legislative bill targeted to ensuring Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, and independent repair technicians have access to information, diagnostic equipment, and parts to repair farm equipment and machinery has received support from the Nebraska Farm Bureau. LB 543 was introduced by Sen. Tom Brandt of Plymouth to address an ongoing issue of concern to farmers whereby farm equipment manufacturers have maintained exclusive control over equipment information and technology, in turn limiting farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to purchase information and tools necessary to repair their own equipment or turn to an independent third-party service technician for assistance.
“Production agriculture is a machinery and equipment intense business. It’s also a time-sensitive business subject to the whims of the weather and needs of livestock. Tractors must run when cattle need fed. Combines need to run during harvest when crops are fit. Our business is predicated on equipment working when it’s needed. Timely and cost-effective repair is vital to our members,” said Mark McHargue, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.
Nebraska Farm Bureau has been engaged in deliberations at the state and national levels with farm equipment manufacturers about addressing the “right to repair” issue through a private memorandum of understanding similar to ones utilized in the automobile industry, whereby vehicle owners and independent technicians can purchase information, diagnostic equipment, and parts needed for vehicle repairs from vehicle manufacturers.
“Nebraska Farm Bureau has a great appreciation for the role equipment manufacturers and their local dealers play in our business and our rural communities. They’re an important partner. With that in mind, our members want the same flexibility in farm equipment repair that’s available in the automobile industry,” said McHargue.
According to McHargue, a private agreement would be best for all parties involved and Nebraska Farm Bureau is open to continuing the discussions with the manufacturers.
“We believe LB 543 offers a solution to a long-standing concern if we’re unable to arrive at a non-legislative solution by working with the manufacturers. We’d prefer to have the memorandum of understanding, but this needs to be resolved quickly. Our support for LB 543 is real and we’ll support this bill until it passes, or we reach an agreement,” said McHargue.
McHargue also clarified where Farm Bureau stands in the broader “right to repair” conversations that expand into other industries and areas such as the right to modify equipment.
“To be clear, our interest is in making sure farmers and ranchers have the ability to purchase what they need at a reasonable rate to get their equipment up and running or have the option of turning to an independent technician. Farm Bureau is not seeking the right to modify farm equipment and we’re not interested in the broader “right to repair” discussions surrounding off-road vehicles or consumer electronics,” said McHargue.
The Nebraska Farm Bureau is a grassroots, state-wide organization dedicated to supporting farm and ranch families and working for the benefit of all Nebraskans through a wide variety of educational, service, and advocacy efforts. More than 58,000 families across Nebraska are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve rural and urban prosperity as agriculture is a key fuel to Nebraska’s economy. For more information about Nebraska Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit www.nefb.org.