On April 11th, Colorado’s state Senate passed a landmark agricultural equipment right to repair bill by an overwhelming 44-16 vote, becoming the first state legislature in the U.S. to pass such legislation. This week the bill was transferred to the desk of Governor Jared Polis, who is expected to sign it into law before the end of the month.
Passage in Colorado came in spite of aggressive lobbying by agricultural equipment makers like John Deere and their local dealerships, who have successfully killed off scores of similar bills in Colorado and other states over the last decade.
Passage of the bill followed a marathon, seven hour hearing of the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee on March 9th. That included impassioned testimony in favor of the bill by Willie Cade, a board member of the Repair Coalition and one of the staunchest advocates for the right to repair agricultural equipment.
Willie's grandfather, Theo Brown, was a legendary engineer and inventor who worked for John Deere and served as a board member of the Deere Corporation. Today, Willie finds himself tilting against the company his grandfather dedicated his career to. But for Willie, he’s fighting Deere in order to save the company from itself.
As Willie sees it, Deere’s success over the last century - and the success of the U.S. economy - comes down to competition and innovation. Small companies and innovative practices drove the market in his grandfather's era, Cade argues. Companies competed with each other for innovation. That isn’t the case anymore, as Deere uses restrictions on the ability to replace parts and upload software to lock out repairs by farmers and non-Deere authorized repair professionals.
In this podcast, Paul and Willie talk about Willie’s journey to the right to repair fight and how he takes inspiration from his grandfather. He also debunks the arguments made by manufacturers that allowing people to repair their devices would endanger clean air laws or enable hackers to manipulate farm equipment.
Paul Roberts (Fight to Repair):
Hey there. Welcome back to the Fight to Repair podcast. For those of you who are new to this podcast, I'm Paul Roberts. I'm publisher of the Fight to Repair Newsletter and the host of this week's Fight to Repair podcast. This week we bring you an interview with Willie Cade. Willie is a board member at the Repair Coalition and one of the nation's foremost advocates for a right to repair agricultural equipment.
In this conversation, Willie and I talk about his work on the right to repair movement. Work that was inspired by his grandfather, Theo Brown, a legendary engineer and inventor who pioneered and patented the manure spreader in 1915 among many other inventions. He worked his whole career for John Deere and later served as a board member of the Deere Corporation.