Proprietary tools and restrictive user agreements keep farmers from fixing their own machines. A vocal faction of producers, legislators, and advocates wants to change that.
In an age of planned obsolescence, there’s no satisfaction quite like fixing your own stuff. It’s not exactly churning butter, but repairing your eyeglasses, your bike, or your Volkswagen Beetle can convey a hardy sense of self-sufficiency. “If you can’t repair it, you don’t own it!” trumpets the manifesto of iFixit.org, a website for tinkerers.
But for farmers who rely heavily on tractors and other automated machinery, the right to repair is more than a novel DIY challenge—it can be an economic necessity. That’s why Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has made the right to repair farm equipment a central plank in her agricultural proposal for America.
“Farmers should be able to repair their own equipment or choose between multiple repair shops,” Warren wrote in a detailed summation of her proposal two weeks ago. “That’s why I strongly support a national right-to-repair law that empowers farmers to repair their equipment without going to an authorized agent.”