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Aug 19, 2020

Tester Pushes Federal Trade Commission to Stand with Rural America on Right to Repair

Senator: “Protecting the right of Montana farmers and ranchers to repair their own equipment is critical to keeping the operation running smoothly”

As part of his continued efforts to help Montana farmers and ranchers stay in business, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is pushing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to examine the importance of “right to repair”—the ability of a buyer to repair their own equipment—for Montanans working in production agriculture.

“Protecting the right of Montana farmers and ranchers to repair their own equipment is critical to keeping the operation running smoothly, and keeping input costs low,” wrote Tester in a letter to FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson. “…Right now, everything from smartphones to tractors require diagnostic software and equipment to make repairs. However…a smartphone and a combine are not the same, and if we continue to lump the two together when developing right to repair policy, rural America will bear the brunt of the impact.”

Tester continued: “Right to repair could be an important tool, but only if the policy is carefully targeted and not overly broad. Especially as farmers across Montana are harvesting their crops, it is critically important that they have the ability to fix their equipment in a timely and cost-effective manner.”

Right to repair is the ability of a consumer to repair their own equipment through accessing product service manuals, guides, diagnostic equipment, parts, and necessary software. With advanced technology now being incorporated into production agriculture, it is becoming more and more difficult for farmers and ranchers to fix their own equipment, so many have come to rely on often overpriced dealer-certified shops that hurt both the producer and local repair shops. Tester is pushing the FTC to take the necessary steps to address right to repair and ensure that these policies work for agriculture in Montana.

As a small scale farmer in rural Montana, Tester has been fighting to ensure that producers have the resources they need to meet their bottom lines, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this year, he laid out his three-plank Rancher Relief Plan that aims to provide certainty to Montana producers and give consumers more access to the products they buy at the supermarket. He recently took to the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to support his bipartisan bill to level the playing field for Montana ranchers and consumers, and he successful demanded that Attorney General William Barr, in coordination with USDA, open an investigation into reports of price fixing in the cattle market earlier this year.

Read Tester’s full letter to Commissioner Wilson HERE.

Office Contact Information

Senator Tester's Montana staff serves the state from offices in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, and Missoula. Please bring your concerns with federal agencies, academy nominations, and other situations to one of these Montana offices.

Billings

Judge Jameson Federal Building
2900 4th Ave N, Suite 201
Billings, MT 59101
Phone: (406) 252-0550
Fax: (406) 252-7768

Bozeman

Avant Courier Building
1 E Main Street, Suite 202
Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone: (406) 586-4450
Fax: (406) 586-7647

Butte

Silver Bow Center
125 W Granite, Suite 200
Butte, MT 59701
Phone: (406) 723-3277
Fax: (406) 782-4717

Great Falls

119 1st Avenue N, Suite 102
Great Falls, MT 59401
Phone: (406) 452-9585
Fax: (406) 452-9586

Helena

208 North Montana Avenue
Suite 104
Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 449-5401
Fax: (406) 449-5462

Kalispell

8 Third Street E
Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: (406) 257-3360
Fax: (406) 257-3974

Missoula

130 W Front St.
Missoula, MT 59802
Phone: (406) 728-3003
Fax: (406) 728-2193

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