North Carolina Senate bill seeks to help hemp growers and change how farm equipment is repaired

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Senator Brent Jackson, R-Duplin. Source: Ncleg.net live stream

By Theresa Opeka
Caroline Diary

North Carolina hemp growers and retailers could be helped by a provision of a Senate bill that was discussed Tuesday at the meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture, Energy and Agriculture. ‘environment.

SB 762, the North Carolina Farm Act of 2022 complies with federal hemp law and removes it from state controlled substance law. This allows for the legal sale and transport of the substance and spells out the differences between hemp and marijuana.

“What we’re doing is saving an industry that has already spent millions and millions of dollars,” said Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Sampson, one of the bill’s lead co-sponsors, during Of the reunion. “If we don’t comply with federal law and come up with something different, these people are going to be in trouble everywhere, from Florida to Maine, from California to North Carolina. Because if they come into North Carolina, if we don’t comply with federal law, they’ll be banned. They will transport illegally, and if we don’t comply with federal law, our retailers will illegally sell products and our producers will, for the most part, be illegal and wipe out this industry.

The move comes closer to the June 30 expiration date of the state law that allows farmers to grow hemp on a temporary basis.

Norman Sanderson, R-Craven; and Mike Woodard, D-Durham, are also lead co-sponsors of the bill.

Another controversial part of the farm bill was also discussed at the committee meeting. The Agricultural Right to Repair Act would allow farmers to change the way they repair machinery. This sparked an outcry from various equipment dealers across the state, saying it would hurt, not help, their industry, as well as the farmers themselves.

Lawmakers faced opposition from farm equipment manufacturing groups after similar language was included in the 2019 farm bill, leading to the removal of language from the bill for a further study.

The first provision would stop the sale of parts to independent stores. Farmers should purchase them directly from dealers. Jackson said the language was left out unintentionally.

The second provision would allow any of the following: any modification that permanently disables a safety notification system with an electronically-enabled farm implement being repaired; any modification of the horsepower or any other faction of the engine of the electronically activated agricultural implement by the modification of the on-board software (programmable); access to any faction of a tool that allows the owner or independent repairer to change the settings of an electronically-enabled agricultural tool to render the equipment permanently non-compliant with applicable safety or health laws emissions.

Dealers overwhelmingly spoke out against the bill’s Second Amendment. They said the language was too broad. It would also hurt their businesses as they spend millions on parts every year and employ hundreds of people. Moreover, it would create responsibilities for them, as well as for the farmers, because any change would make the equipment unsafe. They said customers now have access to parts and manuals are already online. They also pointed out that the emissions issues would violate the Clean Air Act.

Matthew Lyles, vice president of Southeast Farm Equipment, of Laurinburg, North Carolina, told lawmakers that part of the farm bill was unnecessary. His company is a John Deere dealership and employs 100 people at six sites.

“If we allow customers or dealer technicians to modify the on-board software and programming of this equipment, it will cause many other issues and safety risks. Even if you have the software, you need to know what to do with it.

Other issues Lyles pointed out include integrity issues for second or third owners of the equipment, emission issues that violate the Clean Air Act, and resale issues. He concluded by saying that if the OEM part of the bill was left there, every dealership would be crippled.

Josh Evans, vice president of government relations and general counsel for the Equipment Dealers Association, told lawmakers they oppose the bill. The association represents more than 2,000 equipment dealers in the United States and Canada and the 300,000 employees who work for them.

“Last year alone, more than 20 states considered this legislation,” he said. “All 20 of them rejected it because this legislation allows illegal tampering and modification of equipment. It hurts the farmer, not to help him. He moves and modifies a resource and a partner precious, the equipment dealer, and takes it away from the farmer.”

But David Daniels, owner of an independent repair shop in Nash County, told the committee that more flexibility in repairing equipment would help farmers.

“I see difficulties every day with farmers who need help with their broken down tractors in the middle of the road or in the middle of the field, and they don’t have the diagnostic software to read the codes, and that going to reset, go idle, and they’ll have to wait for a repairman to come,” Daniels said.

He also said there was no way to change the horsepower of the equipment because companies like John Deere do it themselves or other companies like Case New Holland have password protection.

“I’m here for the farmers,” Daniels said. “We need to make this legal so all independent stores can buy it.”

Stacy Sereno, state legislative director and legislative counsel for the North Carolina Farm Bureau, also spoke in favor of the Right to Repair Act portion of the bill.

Jackson said he was prepared to accept an alternative provision after hearing all feedback and to turn the Right to Repair Act into a study and send it to the Crime Awareness Study Commission. Agriculture and Forestry, made up of members of the General Assembly and the public. . He said they would also hold three or four town hall meetings across the state for farmers to attend.

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