Tester Secures Commitment from Federal Trade Commission to Address Right to Repair

Senator is pushing FTC to ensure right to repair policies work for rural America

As part of his ongoing fight to help ensure Montana farmers and ranchers can stay in business, U.S. Senator Jon Tester this week secured a commitment from commissioners on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to address “right to repair” – the ability of a consumer to repair their own equipment by accessing product service manuals, guides, diagnostic equipment, parts, and necessary software.

Speaking with FTC Commissioner and President Biden’s nominee to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Rohit Chopra, during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on consumer protection, Tester said that right to repair is critical for folks working in production agriculture, and pushed the commissioners to work with him on needed reforms.

“I’m a farmer. I go back every weekend and I’ve been farming since I was basically 15 years old. I used to be able to take a pair of pliers and a screwdriver and work on my tractor, but now if my tractor breaks down I have to call the dealer because I don’t have the software or the programs,” Tester said. “We’ve got bills to fix this, but I am wondering what the FTC has done to protect consumers from anti-competitive policies on right to repair?”

“…I think we need to start ramping up our enforcement there, because clearly there are those who are breaking the law…but we will be doing more on this in my view,” Chopra replied.

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, resulting in increased reliance on often overpriced dealer-certified shops that hurt both the producer and local repair shops.

“I agree with Commissioner Chopra that we should be looking to use both our consumer protection and our competition enforcement to address this issue,” added FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson.

“We just need to do something with so much consolidation going on in rural America right now,” Tester concluded. “If we want to have people live in rural America, we’ve got to stop crap like this.”

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. Last August he pushed the FTC to protect the right of Montana farmers and ranchers to repair their own equipment so they can keep their operations running smoothly, and have the ability to fix their equipment in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Tester’s full exchange with the FTC commissioners is available HERE.