How ‘right to repair’ is progressing across the U.S.

John Deere

The right to repair is a hot topic right now in agriculture. Earlier this month, the American Farm Bureau Federation signed an MOU with John Deere, laying the framework for producers to get access to company tools and literature needed to do self-repairs.
But Kevin O’Reilly with the Right to Repair Campaign for U.S. PIRG says the memorandum of understanding isn’t all it appears.

“It’s clear when you ask farmers that they don’t have what they need to fix their equipment. They have pretty resoundingly said that this is not enough. And so, we are continuing to push to make sure that they have all the tools, all the software, whatever it takes for them to fully fix our equipment because at the end of the day, they’re paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for these devices, and it’s critical that when it breaks down, that they can fix it and get it back up and running and out in the field. So, we are listening to farmers and continuing to push for this kind of change,” O’Reilly said.

Just this week, AFBF signed another MOU with CNH Industrial who owns brands like New Holland and Case IH. It is very similar to the agreement signed with John Deere but O’Reilly says Deere’s agreement falls short of expectations.

“It limits certain functionalities, so farmers can’t access the same level of diagnostic information or troubleshooting information that the dealer technicians can. And, in addition to that, they can’t pair parts, which is an unfortunate reality of modern equipment. You have to electronically pair a replacement part to the particular machine, to your tractor, to your combine, etc., and farmers don’t have that functionality, which means they’ve got to call up the dealer. They’ve got to pay whatever the dealer wants to pay, and they’ve got to wait as long as the dealer will make them wait,” O’Reilly said.

AFBF President Zippy Duvall remains hopeful though, saying this MOU has been months in the making.

“Our members urged us to find a private sector-solution that gives them access to repair their own equipment and I’m pleased months of discussions have again paid off,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said. “Farmers and ranchers are more dependent on technology than ever before, so it’s critical they have access to the tools to keep things running on the farm so the food supply chain keeps running, too.”

The agreement with CNH Industrial respects intellectual property rights and will be certain emissions systems are not altered. The two groups will meet twice a year to review the agreement.

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