John Deere has agreed to allow farmers to repair their own equipment.
The manufacturer signed a memorandum of understanding with the American Farm Bureau Federation on Jan. 8 that says the company will ensure farmers and independent repair shops have access to many of the tools and software farmers need for repair.
The pact formalizes access to diagnostic and repair codes, as well as manuals and product guides. It also says farmers will be able to buy diagnostic tools directly from Deere and get assistance from the company when ordering parts.
“A piece of equipment is a major investment. Farmers must have the freedom to choose where equipment is repaired, or to repair it themselves, to help control costs,” said Zippy Duvall, the Farm Bureau president.
Farmers have sought right to repair protections for several years as they look to minimize downtime. Equipment companies have said they are concerned about tampering with safety features and proprietary software, and Duvall said the agreement addresses those concerns.
The document creates a mechanism to address farmer concerns, and says Deere and Farm Bureau will meet at least twice a year to review progress. Farm Bureau is negotiating similar arrangements with other equipment manufacturers.
“This agreement reaffirms the longstanding commitment Deere has made to ensure our customers have the diagnostic tools and information they need to make many repairs to their machines,” said David Gilmore, a John Deere senior vice president.
Right to repair campaigns have gained political momentum over the past few years as consumer advocates argue manufacturers are using repair restrictions to drive business to themselves and their dealers.
The Federal Trade Commission said in 2021 that it would crack down on companies that create repair strictures.
And legislation, some specific to farm equipment and some applying to smartphones and other devices, has been introduced in at least half of U.S. states, according to consumer group PIRG.
In December, New York became the first state to pass a major right to repair law, according to Consumer Reports.
In other states, such as Maryland, right to repair bills appear unlikely to pass. The Maryland Farm Bureau said it pursued legislation because dealer consolidation has limited farmers’ repair options, but the organization has shifted its efforts to industry agreements.
John Deere faces a number of lawsuits from farmers over the ability to repair machinery.