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While broader action is possible, reports indicate that the Biden administration will at least call on the FTC to remove repair restrictions on farm equipment
WASHINGTON -- President Joe Biden is expected to issue an executive order in the coming days calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to limit farm equipment manufacturers from using software locks that restrict farmers’ repair options, according to an insider source reported on Tuesday by Reuters. Reporting also noted that “the presidential right-to-repair directive is expected to mention mobile phone manufacturers and Department of Defense contractors as possible areas for regulation.”
This executive action in favor of “Right to Repair” comes after years of campaigning by advocates U.S. PIRG, Repair.org and iFixit, as well as public support from farmer groups, including the American Farm Bureau and National Farmers Union. U.S. PIRG Education Fund produced extensive research on the repair limitations on farming equipment, releasing a report earlier this year that exposed how farm equipment manufacturers limit access to software tools needed to repair broken tractors.
The order will also build off a landmark report by the FTC in May which showed how a wide range of modern equipment contains measures that restrict repair choice, from proprietary software tools needed to complete repairs to refusing to sell spare parts.
In response, U.S. PIRG Right to Repair Senior Campaign Director Nathan Proctor issued the following statement:
“We’re thrilled to see the Biden administration step up to protect farmers from repair monopolies. Our research has shown that the way the equipment is built makes it necessary to get specialized software tools that, despite promises that manufacturers would share them, farmers can’t get. This order should be the first step in giving farmers a choice for who repairs their equipment.
“This is great news for farmers, and it’s great news for everyone concerned with repair monopolies. It also shows that the Right to Repair campaign is continuing to move forward, and win new support. Already, the vast majority of the American people agree with us. Now, it appears, the president also believes that people should be able to fix their stuff. It’s time for manufacturers to wise up, because we’re not going to stop pushing for our Right to Repair.”
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