Tuesday 10 January 2023

John Deere Signs Agreement Giving Farmers More Freedom To Repair Equipment

 Farming company Deere & Co., known as John Deere, signed an agreement allowing farmers to fix their own machinery or seek repairs from independent workers on Sunday. 

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and Deere & Co. signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) as a culmination of the “right to repair” discussion. Some farmers have argued that manufacturing companies have used their own systems in order to make farmers go to specific places to repair their products. Deere has essentially required farmers to seek repairs at their own divisions or given authorized dealers the ability to get into the technology instead of giving farmers more information about their system. 

“It addresses a long-running issue for farmers and ranchers when it comes to accessing tools, information and resources, while protecting John Deere’s intellectual property rights and ensuring equipment safety,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said.

Deere is looking forward to operating with AFBF and “our customers in the months and years ahead to ensure farmers continue to have the tools and resources to diagnose, maintain and repair their equipment,” Dave Gilmore, a vice president at Deere, said.

The MOU noted that a manufacturer would not be able to “divulge trade secrets, proprietary or confidential information” or “allow owners or Independent Repair Facilities to override safety features or emissions controls or to adjust Agricultural Equipment power levels” under the signed agreement. 

The MOU also said that the farm group would “encourage state Farm Bureau organizations to recognize the commitments made in this MOU” and hold back “from introducing, promoting, or supporting federal or state ‘Right to Repair’ legislation that imposes obligations beyond the commitments in this MOU.” Deere and the group can both pull out of the agreement by providing written notice of fifteen days if right-to-repair legislation is enacted at the state or federal level. 

Kevin O’Reilly, director for the Right to Repair Campaign at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, said legislators “should continue pushing Right-to-Repair legislation until every farmer in every state with every brand of equipment can fix every problem with every tractor.”

At a time when farmers have been seeing high prices for necessary items, the agreement could mean they get some relief when it comes to the ability to pay less for repairs. However, high commodity costs could also bring an uptick in income for the industry.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order in 2021 to allow more freedom for farmers to fix their equipment or turn to independent repair workers. 

Deere has noted that it offered ways for private groups to do repairs but didn’t want its technical systems changed. In the past, Deere and other equipment makers were unwilling to give farmers full range to their systems. Changing the technical elements could make them not work as well, according to the companies. 

Last March, Deere also said it would allow a diagnostics software item to be bought by independent repair services and farmers. 

This year, New York passed right-to-repair legislation and Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul signed it on December 29. Massachusetts also passed a right-to-repair law aimed at the automotive industry in 2012.

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