Tenn. farmers want the right to repair their own tractors

Fairness for farmers: Lawmakers pledge legislation to take on corporate ‘monopolies’

Tennessee Senate Democrats
3 min readMar 15, 2024


NASHVILLE — Rep. Justin Jones and Sen. Sara Kyle will stand alongside Tennessee farmers Tuesday at Ag Day on the Hill, urging their colleagues to restore every farmer’s right to repair their own tractor and agriculture equipment.

Agriculture is Tennessee’s largest industry, and the people responsible for this economic success story want the legislature to take action on a growing problem that affects their business: Tractor manufacturers largely prohibit farmers from fixing their own tractors.

Modern farm equipment is designed to require software tools to complete certain repairs. Manufacturers have withheld full access to those tools, giving farmers no choice but to take equipment back to the dealership.

Local farmers say these limitations have created a repair monopoly for manufacturers and dealers, reducing competition, inflating service prices, and leading to downtime during tight planting and harvest windows.

Willie Cade, a senior policy advisor on right to repair with the Farm Action Fund, says workforce shortages in the service repair sector strengthen the case for taking legislative action.

“For a hundred years, farmers have been able to fix their tractors and repair their equipment,” Cade says. “And they need to be able to do it themselves because, for two decades, dealers haven’t had enough technicians to serve farmers during harvest season.

“At the federal level, all farmers are hearing is classic Washington double-speak,” Cade says. “If Tennessee gets behind this right-to-repair legislation, they can cut through the noise and deliver a big win to help farmers.”

Challenging corporate monopolies

This year, Rep. Jones and Sen. Kyle introduced Senate Bill 2035 to enact a right-to-repair policy for agriculture equipment based on Colorado’s law, the first in the nation passed in 2023. Since its introduction, the bill has gained bipartisan support.

If enacted, the bill would require equipment manufacturers to provide farmers, ranchers and independent mechanics the right to access — on fair and reasonable terms — the tools and information required to make timely farm equipment repairs.

Rep. Jones says it is time for Tennessee lawmakers to place a check on corporate “greed” and restore fairness for Tennessee farmers.

“This Agriculture Right-to-Repair legislation is about the ability of farmers to fix their own equipment and empowering community economies. It’s about standing up to corporate monopolies that have exploited local family farms to satisfy their limitless greed, costing our farmers tens of thousands of dollars in excessive repair fees for their farm equipment,” said Rep. Jones. “This bill is not just allowing farmers to take control of their equipment, but shifting the balance of power back to Tennessee farmers who are doing the hard and often thankless work of growing our nation’s food supply and farming for our future.”

“When tractors were first introduced, farmers didn’t know how to fix them, but they learned. In fact, farmers have been learning and adapting since the beginning of time,” said Sen. Kyle. “I know farmers are smart and capable of fixing their equipment — all they need is the tools.”

In the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, Republican Sen. Frank Niceley told the panel that the right to repair is an “important issue” for Tennessee farmers.

“When you’ve got a car, you can take it down to your local shade tree mechanic and he has a device and he can plug it up and tell you what’s wrong with it. Farmers can’t do that,” Sen. Nicelely said. “(The manufacturers) are trying to make these farmers bring their heavy equipment back to the dealer or send a guy out with a repair truck at $200-$300 an hour. The greed of some of these corporations — it’s amazing how greedy they can be.”

Regardless of the bill’s fate in this General Assembly, lawmakers say they intend to keep the right-to-repair movement growing in Tennessee.