Farmer asks legislators to support right to repair

House subcommittee tackles complicated issues of whether farmers should have the right to repair their own equipment.


Jacqui Fatka, Feedstuffs 

Sep 14, 2022


With the proliferation of computer chips and shift towards more technologically advanced tractors, Maine farmer Jim Gerritsen made the decision many years ago to only own farm equipment that he could repair himself on the farm. His family farm relies on a fleet of older, sturdy, American-made tractors from the 1970s and older that he and his son Caleb can repair and rebuild themselves.


Gerritsen was on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Sept. 14, before the Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Underserved, Agricultural, and Rural Business Development to urge Congress to codify traditional farmer and independent shop repair rights by passing legislation which “serves the public good by leveling the economic playing field, restraining monopoly control, and thereby uplifting the economy and enhancing the freedom and liberty of working Americans.”


He says many years ago he saw the move towards sophisticated electronics as a direction he didn't want to take in his operation. “Our interest is not in increasing production, which could come at higher costs. Our strategy has been to increase our independence and farm viability by keeping as many things within our control,” he shared with legislators.


During his opening remarks, he explains he would never choose to place his operation in the vulnerable position of being at the mercy of malfunctioning electronic sensors, then being involuntarily forced into “limp mode,” and becoming locked out from using equipment they “own” until an expensive dealer mechanic arrives at their convenience with their rescuing computer software.


“When a problem as common and as minor as water condensation in a diesel tank can cause a sudden ‘limp mode’ restriction during peak planting or harvest, not only is an individual farmer placed at risk, but extrapolating the system vulnerability, so is our nation’s food security,” he says...


No simple solution ...