Testimony: Right to Repair

Our testimony in support of HB 975, a bill that will provide farmers across the state the Right to Repair their equipment. 

Close up view of a John Deere tractor
John Deere tractor image by- Image by Collin Weaver https://pixabay.com
Bridget Sanderson

Former State Director, Environment Missouri

Chairman Rone and Members of the Committee, 

As the director of Environment Missouri, a citizen-based environmental advocacy organization, I speak on behalf of our members across the state in support of HB 975. If passed, this bill will support our farmers and small repair shops in the state of Missouri. By creating an economy of repair we can provide autonomy for farmers with regards to the equipment they purchase and reduce our waste in the state. Environment Missouri believes that if a farmer buys equipment to provide food for Missouri families, they should be able to choose where they fix that equipment. We ask the members of the Committee to vote yes on HB 975. 

While this bill focuses primarily on agriculture equipment and heavy construction machinery, we should first discuss repair as a whole. Farmers use a lot of technology, from the tablets mounted inside the tractor to the GPS and cell phones they use to communicate, to the HVAC and refrigeration systems they use in their barns to the irrigation technology in their fields. We want farmers to have the ability to repair every part of their equipment.

Electronic waste is quickly becoming the fastest growing waste issue. According to the EPA we are throwing out 2.25 million tons of electronics every year, including 416,000 cell phones, and about 80% of that ends up in our landfills. It is estimated that about 40% of the heavy metals in our landfills come from e-waste. These toxic materials are leaking and possibly damaging our soils and waters in Missouri. 

The easiest way to reduce our waste issue when it comes to electronics is to keep these products in use, when possible, and out of our landfills. 

Many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) claim that if we open up the options for repair, farmers will override emissions control on their equipment and the legal ramifications will fall back on the OEMs. Environment Missouri finds these claims alarming but also knows it is demonstrably false. When it comes to emissions requirements set by the EPA, removing emissions controls is already illegal. This bill doesn’t change legality when it comes to emissions requirements, diagnostic tools do not enable illegal modifications. The EPA is the legal enforcement body with emissions requirements, not the dealership.

Not every town in Missouri has a John Deere dealership. The current repair monopoly is making it so that only giant corporate farms can afford to buy new equipment, and for the small farmer it’s not economically feasible to buy new instead of used equipment and spare parts. Farmers can shell out $300,000 on new equipment. However, when that equipment shuts down due to a computer fault and repair takes hours, or even days, charging monopolized pricing for repair, the farmers yield and livelihoods are at stake.

Because of this we are seeing more farmers choosing to buy older models of equipment which are easier and less costly for them to repair. The idea that these new models are becoming obsolete to the small farmer and essentially junk because they can not easily repair their own equipment is a huge resource dump and waste issue. In order to reduce our waste, farmers should be able to repair, instead of replacing their equipment. 

Repair is a valid, legally protected activity. The measure in question is already in place for consumer automobiles. One is able to take their car to the mechanic of their choice and they can get the parts and repair manuals needed to fix it. And in 2018, the U.S. Copyright Office ruled that repair is a legal act and not a violation of federal copyright protections. 

It is wrong that we have a few powerful companies telling their customers where they have to fix their equipment. What Missouri has are many intelligent, capable people who are able to fix this equipment. All they are asking for is fair access to the parts and information they need to keep this equipment in use. This law would finally give them that opportunity. 

For the sake of our farmers and small businesses in Missouri we respectfully urge the committee to vote yes on HB 975. Thank you Chairman Rone and members of the Committee. 


Bridget Sanderson


Environment Missouri


Bridget Sanderson

Former State Director, Environment Missouri

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