Note: This story was updated on June 21 to reflect new information on the existing MOUs.
Michigan’s House Agriculture Committee considered ‘right to repair’ policy this week within House Bill 4673, sponsored by Chair Rep. Reggie Miller (D-VanBuren Twp.) to give agricultural producers and independent service technicians access to diagnostics, information and parts that are available to equipment dealers.
According to MFB Legislative Counsel Andrew Vermeesch, Michigan Farm Bureau does not have state-level policy on this issue or a formal position on the bill, but the organization has for a few years supported the American Farm Bureau Federation’s efforts to develop and implement right to repair agreements between farmers and national agriculture equipment manufactures.
In written testimony submitted to the 13-member committee, Vermeesch acknowledged the significance of the issue saying “…the ability to promptly repair equipment and manage overhead costs is crucial, as downtime resulting from breakdowns can significantly impact crop production, while high repair expenses create financial burdens for farmers.”
He goes on to explain that the respective memorandums of understanding (MOUs) between Farm Bureau, John Deere, CNH Industrial Brands, AGCO, Kubota and CLAAS establish a framework enabling farmers and independent repair facilities to access essential tools, manual, product guides, and information necessary for self-diagnosis and self-repairs.
“Collectively, these four MOUs cover approximately 75% of the agricultural machinery in the U.S.,” Vermeesch wrote, adding that the MOUs stipulate Farm Bureau will refrain from promoting or engaging in federal or state right to repair legislation.
“In the event any state and federal legislation or regulation relating to the issues covered under the MOU and/or right to repair is enacted, Farm Bureau or the manufacturer reserves the right to withdraw from the MOU.”
Vermeesch’s testimony then addresses the crux of the matter, “Michigan Farm Bureau requests that the House Agriculture Committee allow the agreement between the farmers and agriculture equipment manufactures to move forward without taking legislative or regulatory action at this time that could undermine the progress made thus far or jeopardize future good faith efforts.”
He said this will allow time for the agreements to be fully implemented and continue discussions between manufacturers and Farm Bureau that looks for solutions to best fit farmers’ needs.
The House Agriculture Committee did not vote on House Bill 4673 during the June 7 hearing.
Groups showing support for the legislation included the Michigan Corn Growers Association, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sierra Club, Michigan Farmers Union, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, Public Interest Resource Group, and Repair.org.
Groups in opposition included the North American Dealers Association, Tri County Equipment, Hutson Incorporated, GreenMark Equipment, Burnips Equipment and Operating Engineers Local 324.
In addition to Rep. Miller’s legislation, there are six other state-level bills that have been introduced on the right to repair: 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).