Right to Repair Movement

As a farmer, you wear many hats.  On this blog, we often discuss wearing the tax and administrative hats of your farm, however, a recent article from Time (click here) discusses the repairman or mechanic role many farmers take on as well. 

As the article discusses, equipment manufacturers are producing ever increasing high-tech  tractors or other heavy machinery that often runs on copyright-protected software.  Instead of being able to diagnose problems themselves, then, farmers are forced to work with company-approved technicians that are often much more expensive.  Because of this, some farmers have come together in support of a so-called Right to Repair legislation that has been proposed in at least 12 states and would require equipment manufacturers to offer the diagnostic tools, manuals and other supplies that farmers need to fix their own machines. 

Farm equipment manufacturers have their own arguments against this, however, the interesting piece with this is an unexpected opponent to this movement:  Apple. Apple argues the proposals could result in subpar repair work or make consumers vulnerable to hackers. 

Maybe even more interesting with this is that the issue is cutting across party lines, with support from Republicans in agriculture-heavy states like Nebraska and pro-consumer Democrats in states like New Jersey. Given the large size of some of the companies against this movement, as the article points out, I am not sure we should expect any big changes anytime soon.  But, if the movement at least gets the conversation started and the ball rolling, it could force some companies to open up a little bit.  With many farms struggling with cash flow due to high input costs and low crop prices, any little bit of savings can help.

Special thanks to David Enquist for this post.

 

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Paul Neiffer is a certified public accountant and business advisor specializing in income taxation, accounting services, and succession planning for farmers and agribusiness processors. Paul is a partner with CliftonLarsonAllen in Yakima, Washington, as well as a regular speaker at national conferences and contributor at agweb.com. Raised on a farm in central Washington, he has been immersed in the ag industry his entire life, including the last 30 years professionally. In fact, Paul drives combine each summer for his cousins and that is what he considers a vacation. Leave a comment for Paul. If you would like to leave a comment for Paul, follow the link above, however, please make sure to include your email address so that he can reply to your comment (your email address will not automatically show up).

Comments

You know, it is actually illegal for them to put anything into the license agreement stating you cannot fix your own stuff? Not that it really stops any of the companies, but it is. The fact of the matter is, if you paid for an item, say a tractor like the example here, you have every right to repair it, find parts, etc. This is just protecting bad business practices, and taking more money from the little guy.

What does Apple know about farming and repairs? When you are getting repairs done in the field, who doesn’t run into sub-par repair work! I fixed many a baler, harobed, potato digger, & potato truck bed with a crescent wrench and a BF hammer. The machinery companies need to reevaluate who their consumers are and what they really need and want, not what they think is best for them.

As for Apple, they need to stick to iphones, over priced computers and keeping their consumer base of millennials and yuppies happy. My grandfather, dad, and most other good farmers have raised a lot of crops without any help from those idiots at Apple.

See you next week in the tri-cities.

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