The American Farm Bureau Federation and Deere & Co. signed a memorandum of understanding giving farmers the right to repair John Deere equipment.
The agreement, signed Jan 8 during the farm bureau’s annual convention, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, gives farmers access to diagnostic and repair codes, as well as service manuals and product guides. Farmers will also be able to buy specialty diagnostic or repair tools directly from Deere.
In return, the American Farm Bureau said it will encourage its state organizations to refrain from supporting any federal or state right to repair legislation. If any state or federal legislation or regulation is passed regarding terms in the MOU, Deere has the right to withdraw from the agreement.
Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall said the agreement “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.”
“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,” Duvall said, in a statement.
Consumer groups have long been calling on companies, particularly in technology and agriculture sectors, to allow consumers and independent repair shops to fix their devices and equipment.
In the case with farm equipment, much of the problems revolved around computers and other technology onboard newer tractors and combines. A complaint against Deere & Co. filed with the Federal Trade Commission last year said the company “deliberately restricted access to diagnostic software and other information needed to repair Deere equipment.”
According to the complaint, brought by the National Farmers Union and other farm groups, in many cases when a machine stops working farmers can’t repair it or even tell what the issue is without software that Deere only gives its authorized technicians.
Right to repair legislation was introduced in both Ohio and Pennsylvania last legislative session, but went nowhere.
The MOU is only with John Deere, but the company is estimated to control more than half the U.S. market for large tractors and combines. Other manufacturers could enter an agreement with the Farm Bureau in the future. The MOU makes clear that access will not be allowed for the purpose of overriding safety features or emissions criteria.
David Gilmore, John Deere senior vice president, Ag & Turf Sales & Marketing, said, the agreement reaffirms the company’s commitment to ensure customers have what they need to make repairs to their machines.
“We look forward to working alongside the American Farm Bureau 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,” Gilmore said, in a statement.
The full MOU document can be found online at: www.fb.org/files/AFBF_John_Deere_MOU.pdf.
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