U.S. farmers who use John Deere equipment won a huge victory on Jan. 8 as the manufacturer gave them the right to fix their own equipment. North Carolina legislators have been waging a similar fight for farmers here.
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and Deere & Co. signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Sunday.
“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,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall in a press release. “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.”
David Gilmore, John Deere Senior Vice President, Ag & Turf Sales & Marketing, said in the same release, “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. 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.”
The agreement gives farmers access to diagnostic and repair codes, manuals (operator, parts, service), and product guides. They will also be able to purchase diagnostic tools directly from John Deere and receive assistance from the manufacturer when ordering parts and products.
In return, equipment owners and independent technicians will not be allowed to “divulge trade secrets, proprietary or confidential information, override safety features or emissions controls, or to adjust Agricultural Equipment power levels.”
The Farm Bureau said the agreement has the potential to serve as a model for other manufacturers, and talks are already underway.
“The memorandum of understanding between John Deere and the American Farm Bureau Federation is a step toward ensuring farmers have the definitive ‘Right to Repair’ their own farm equipment,” said Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Sampson, in a tweet Monday afternoon. “This issue still commands more attention and fixing, but the agreement reached does move the needle in the right direction.
Sampson had been a champion of the original Right to Repair Act which was included in S.B. 762, The Farm Act, which was signed into law last year but was removed after controversy erupted over it. Dealers overwhelmingly spoke out against it at a hearing in May.
Jackson said they took out the original portion of the bill called Right to Repair after a discussion in the Senate Agriculture Committee. They decided to change it to a study and hold hearings across the state so they can hear from farmers, manufacturers.
No word if any progress has been made, including any hearings that may have been held.