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My Turn: Legislation would protect farm equipment dealers, too

This past week, there has been much money spent by the auto manufacturers, purchasing full-page newspaper ads, in an effort to defeat Senate Bill 126. While SB 126 does provide much-needed protection to our auto dealers from the practices of the auto manufacturers, our interest in SB 126 is the protection of our farm equipment dealers from the arbitrary practice by the manufacturers of cancelling local dealers’ franchises in favor of having one large regional dealer.

In the past, farm equipment was sold and serviced by many smaller dealers in towns all across the state. The new practice, favoring one large regional dealer, is detrimental to agriculture and the economy of rural New Hampshire for many reasons:

∎ Local dealers can be called at home, after hours, or on Sundays or holidays, to provide service and parts in emergencies. They will open their store when a farmer needs a baler part on Sunday morning and rain is forecast for Sunday afternoon. This is a true emergency to a farmer whose hay crop is at risk. Mega-dealers 100 miles away will not provide this type of support, and even if they would, the distance is too great to be of use.

∎ Local dealers are often one of the few businesses in a small town.

∎ Local dealers support local causes and charities. They and their employees often serve on town boards and commissions.

∎ Local dealers know and appreciate their customers’ needs. They know the local economy, its trials and tribulations.

∎ Local dealers provide jobs, which support the local economy.

We need our local equipment dealers and they, in turn, need us. There is a mutual loyalty between the local dealers and their customers which has been earned over the years, a loyalty which is seldom duplicated by regional mega-dealers. We urge you to support New Hampshire agriculture by contacting your representatives or senator, asking them to adopt SB 126, which will afford some level of protection to our local dealers which are so valuable to New Hampshire agriculture and our way of life.

(John Keegan is chairman of the Boscawen Agricultural Commission. This column was written on behalf of the commission.)

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