As the ‘right to repair’ debate comes to Montpelier, lawmakers face a ‘flood’ of opposition from national interest groups

Mar 23, 2023

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When Zachery Emerson, a Groton-based logger, needs to fix his forestry equipment, it’s rare that he can make the repair himself or hire a local mechanic to do the work.

It’s not that they don’t know how. The issue is that, nowadays, equipment manufacturers keep a tight lid on who is able to obtain the machine parts, diagnostic tools and computer codes needed to repair modern logging and agricultural equipment, forcing owners to turn to manufacturer-certified technicians to get the work done.

“Today's equipment is totally mechanized … Whereas, back in the ’80s and ’90s, it was more mechanical and a lot more hydraulic,” Emerson told VTDigger. “Guys could work on it with wrenches and fix it, compared to today's age, where you need those technical tools to be able to diagnose any trouble that you have.”

As a result, Emerson needs to transport his heavy machinery to a dealership for work or pay for a certified technician to travel to Groton to make repairs. In a weather-dependent industry, he said, such travel takes precious time; farmers quite literally have to make hay while the sun shines. And while a local mechanic charges roughly $80 per hour for work, Emerson said a specialist could cost upward of $190 per hour.

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