Tractor giant Deere & Co. and the American Farm Bureau Federation reached an agreement that gives farmers the right to repair their own farm equipment or take it to an independent technician. It’s a move that should save farmers time and money and marks a significant settlement in the “right to repair.”
When it comes to technology, manufacturers often limit who has the tools, parts and information to fix it when it breaks. The result: companies get to keep business in house. For instance, until recently, if someone’s MacBook broke, the person would have to take it to the Apple Store and pay a premium to get it fixed.
The right to repair movement pushes companies to make parts, tools and information readily available so the consumer can fix the technology at home or take it to the repair shop of their choice. And while the conversation around the right to repair often centers around consumer electronics, farmers just scored a major victory in the space.
“As you use equipment, we all know at some point in time, there’s going to be problems with it. And we did have problems with having the opportunity to repair our equipment where we wanted to, or even repair it on the farm,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said at a conference over the weekend.
The issue for farmers has become more pressing as machinery adopted high-tech equipment like software and sensors to maximize agricultural production. Deere has used software locks that only authorized dealers could disable, limiting options and causing delays in repairs.
The Farm Bureau said it took years of hard work to get to this agreement with Deere and hopes the memorandum of understanding will serve as a model for other manufacturers. Those conversations are reportedly already in the works.
The memo between Deere and AFBF said its purpose is to address “right to repair” through the private sector, rather than through legislation or regulation. Deere has been repeatedly sued for allegedly monopolizing the repair market and state and federal lawmakers alike have considered various forms of right-to-repair bills.
In the memo, the Farm Bureau agreed to “refrain from introducing, promoting, or supporting federal or state ‘Right to Repair’ legislation” that goes beyond the current agreement.