Working towards a long-term solution on right to repair

You’re out in a piece of new machinery and something in the computer system breaks down. Are you equipped to fix it? Do you have the right to repair it?

Geoff Backman, manager of business development and markets at the Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions, says farmers’ frustrations continue to grow as they don’t have access to technology required to fix their equipment.

“What we’re hearing from our producers is that they are running into issues with downtime; that they are lacking the tools and the ability to get out and repair their equipment in a timely manner to get their operations back up and running. And that’s presenting risk to their farm operations,” he explains.

The right to repair issue is perhaps better known as an issue for the automobile and technology sector; however, outside the agriculture bubble, agricultural machinery repair isn’t necessarily making the headlines.

So how do we change that? Backman says the first step is making sure our voices are heard. (Story continues below video)

“It’s important that farmers get their voice out and let legislators know what they need to have realistic and reliable repair options for their farms. This issue is being moved forward, and it’s being moved forward by the automobile industry and the personal electronics issue. And we need to make sure that farmers have their voices heard, so that they’re included in any decisions as well,” notes Backman.

Although there is still a lot of ground to cover, and things that need to change, Backman says there have been some improvements made.

“We’ve been waiting a long time to see some of the better access to repair manuals, as well as the availability of electronic diagnostic tools. These are important additions for self repair. The rollout is brand new, and it’s going on right now,” says ¬†Backman, adding the response from farmers at this point has been “somewhat tepid.”

“I think the biggest concern on these new rollouts is that they need to be available at a cost that makes sense for the mid-size farm.”

Backman also notes there will be a survey conducted by the Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions in early 2022 in regards to right to repair, so farmers should keep their eyes open for that.