John Deere has signed a memorandum of understanding with the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) that’s aimed at ensuring farmers and ranchers maintain the right to repair their own green and yellow farm equipment.
The MOU, signed at the 2023 AFBF Convention in Puerto Rico this past weekend, is intended to secure “fair and reasonable” access for U.S. farmers and their mechanics to diagnostic and repair codes, manuals, product guides, and diagnostic tools from John Deere.
“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 statement. “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. The MOU commits John Deere to ensuring farmers and independent repair facilities have access to many of the tools and software needed to grow the food, fuel and fiber America’s families rely on.”
“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,” noted David Gilmore, John Deere’s senior vice president of ag and turf sales and marketing.
As part of the arrangement, Deere has agreed to meet with the Farm Bureau at least twice a year to evaluate whether the MOU is working.
The Farm Bureau, meanwhile, has agreed to “refrain from introducing, promoting, or supporting federal or state ‘Right to Repair’ legislation that imposes obligations beyond the commitments in this MOU.” Deere could withdraw from the deal with only 15 days notice if any state or federal government enacted legislation or regulation that applies to the issues covered by the MOU.
The Farm Bureau says it sees the MOU serving as a model for right-to-repair agreements with other manufacturers, and that those discussions are also underway.
From a Canadian perspective, the MOU is intended to benefit American farmers, but Deere farm equipment owners north of the border potentially stand to benefit due to their proximity and the integrated nature of the North American machinery market.
Lawmakers in Ottawa have also been discussing right-to-repair, as there’s private member’s bill in the House of Commons that would amend Canada’s Copyright Act to allow Canadians to circumvent computer software to diagnose, maintain, or repair a product. Bill C-244 — introduced by B.C. Liberal MP Wilson Miao in February of 2022 — is seen as applying to anything with internal software that limits the owner’s ability to repair it. The North American Equipment Dealers Association says the bill should not apply to farm equipment, and that it “doesn’t take into consideration the industry commitment to support customer repair, and has unintended safety, environmental and cybersecurity consequences for the Canadian agricultural industry.”
Read the MOU signed by John Deere and the American Farm Bureau here.