From ‘Observations from the Field’ by Tim Wentz, Tim Wentz, NEDA Field Director / Legislative Committee Chairman

Published with permission of the Northeast Equipment Dealers Assn. (NEDA).

Last year I began my article with the phrase, “The Right-to-Repair (R2R) ‘field of play’ has changed,” and highlighted the president’s executive order, the subsequent FTC policy statement, and the introduction of Congressman Morelli’s “The Fair Repair Act.” I then noted that we were “going to need to step up our game!”

With help from our coalition of partners and member dealers, we are fortunate to have fended off enactment of R2R legislation, not exempting equipment, in our 9 states — to date. Unfortunately, repair advocates continue to effectively drive the “conversation,” overlooking any negative consequences, including the potential environmental, safety, or financial impact should the legislation as it is currently drafted be enacted.

It is not easy to do, but experience has taught me to listen to what the “other side” is advocating for and use that information to try find common ground, while at the same time trying to help them understand any of the unintended consequences of their “ask.” Advocates often say that the goal of our campaign is to ensure that small family farms can survive in today’s economy. Farmers just want to repair their own equipment. This is a very effective sound bite that is vague yet relatable, particularly when paired with monopoly/big business talking points in the current media landscape and given abbreviated attention spans!

We know that the issue is far more complicated than the advocates would have the public (to include your customers) and legislators believe! The majority of repairs are performed by customers and independent shops – why else would a majority of parts sales be over the counter? Emissions is a false flag argument – why else would 15% of diesel pickups in the U.S. have emissions Defeat Devices? How does a dealer value equipment that is being operated outside of factory design specifications, safety or emissions control/systems defeated? These are a few of the questions the advocates have conveniently called red herrings!

Is there common ground to be found? There is! Everyone, agrees that a diverse population of profitable farmers is more resilient, produces more, is more sustainable and is in both the public’s interest and our national security. Few would argue that labor is not a problem. Not as many will agree that technology is the most effective solution to the labor challenge – history has proven otherwise! As appealing as it is to wish that things would just go back to “the good old days,” that is not going to happen. The better choice would be for all to work cooperatively towards identifying a legislative policy focused on building and supporting a vibrant and profitable producer population.

Regardless of the pathway chosen by advocates, industry and legislators, we can be certain that the more voices we are able to bring to the table, the more likely it will be that legislators and the public will understand that R2R (modify) is a far more complicated issue than the sound bites driving both social and traditional media.

NEDA has updated legislative tracking report on the association’s website. The report function features an interactive states map and the ability to sort legislation by category. It is

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