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Colorado lays down the law

Gov. Polis just signed the nation’s first Right to Repair legislation into law for farmers and put manufacturers on notice. An automotive aftermarket federal bill should follow suit.

Colorado became the first state to ensure farmers can fix their own machines when Gov. Jared Polis signed a “Right to Repair” law last week on Tuesday, which forces manufacturers to provide their customers with the necessary manuals, tools, parts and software.

Here in my home state, large swaths of Colorado are blanketed in farmland and ranches. Following a nationwide outcry from farmers, Gov. Polis took the lead on the issue.

Rob Merwin, publisher, Aftermarket Matters

“Manufacturers prevent them from fixing their own machines — from behemoth combines to thin tractors — when they break down,” stated Ike McCorkle, who is running for Colorado’s 4th Congressional District in 2024. “Farmers say it forces them to wait precious days for a servicer to arrive, a delay that could mean a hail storm decimates a crop or a farmer misses the ideal planting window.”

Lawmakers in at least 10 other states have introduced similar legislation, including in Florida, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Texas and Vermont. And the American Farm Bureau Federation announced earlier this year that it had reached an agreement with John Deere that promises independent repair shops and farmers the ability to service John Deere’s equipment (though that agreement appears dubious).

This can only help build momentum for Right to Repair legislation across the country where 28 other bills have been introduced to give consumers the right of choice as to where and how they get their products serviced or repaired, be it farm equipment, iphones, kitchen appliances and, yes, even vehicles.

The automotive aftermarket — and consumers — as it’s been well documented, have been facing its own challenges with automakers in receiving OEM repair information for years. But similar to legislators showing increasing support for the farming industry, so, too, are lawmakers for the aftermarket.

“Last week’s signing of agriculture right to repair legislation in Colorado means three states now have laws on the books ensuring right to repair specific consumer goods or agricultural equipment, and at least two more states are actively considering legislation,” MEMA’s Vice President of Legislative Affairs Catherine Boland told me. “Colorado’s passage is one more example of the building momentum behind the global right to repair movement. Vehicles must be part of the discussion, and MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers will continue to build on this momentum and seek passage of federal vehicle repair access legislation in Washington.”

I also reached out to Lisa Foshee, who is the senior vice president of Government Affairs and General Counsel for the Auto Care Association, about this Colorado landmark development and she had this to say:

“Colorado’s agricultural right to repair legislation [is] a consequential step to preserving choice in repair options. Colorado’s law demonstrates the importance of the global right to repair movement across all industries. Consumers choose the aftermarket for approximately 70% of their post-warranty car repairs, and our livelihoods depend upon vehicle uptime to deliver the goods and services made available by the over 9 million vehicles in our commercial vehicle trucking industry.”

This year and next is the time to get a national Right to Repair legislation accomplished with the growing groundswell of bi-partisan support across industries. But the aftermarket must blow its horn and make its voice stronger. Because it’s important to be heard — for us and those behind the wheel who have a right to freely choose where they get their vehicles serviced.

Make your voice heard here.

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